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Kodiak Kowboy: sprinter who stepped up to a mile

Kodiak Kowboy
4 b c Posse - Kokadrie (Coronado's Quest)

THE Breeders' Cup generally determines the destination of several North American divisional titles; it is the occasion when the stars of the season tend to confirm or reveal their merit.

But there are likely to be quite a few exceptions to the rule in 2009, most obviously in the three-year-old category, as nobody isgoing to overlook Rachel Alexandra, who dominated the division throughout the year, but whose connections could not be tempted to run her over Santa Anita's synthetic surface.


It also seems highly unlikely that Dancing In Silks, shock winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint, is going to collect the Eclipse Award in his category.

This was not a vintage year for sprinters in the States, and when the big day arrived three of the supposed leaders of the group were missing for one reason or another, while the one who was expected to demonstrate his superiority over those who did turn up – Zensational – produced an uncharacteristically dull performance.    

One of those who was forced to miss the event, having flown in from the east coast specifically to contest it, is now being touted as the prospective champion after picking up his third Group 1 victory of the year with a career-best performance.

There might seem to be nothing odd about that, but that latest win came not in a sprint, but in the Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct.

Kodiak Kowboy, who was retired after that victory and will begin as a stallion at Vinery next spring, has been a consistent prominent performer throughout his three seasons in training, as his record of 11 wins and seven minor places from 23 starts and a bankroll of $1,663,363 testifies.

He was named champion two-year-old in Canada in 2007 while earning wider recognition south of the border as winner of the Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes and the Grade 2 Saratoga Special, runner-up in the Grade 2 Futurity and third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

He collected two other Graded events in his second season in the Amsterdam Stakes and Sport Page Handicap in addition to showing that he could compete with the best sprinters around, notching a third place, less than a length off the winner, in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes.

In 2009 Kodiak Kowboy has shown a higher level of form on several occasions while being campaigned chiefly over 6f and 7f. His efforts in Grade 1 company brought him wins in the Carter Handicap (7f) and the Vosburgh Stakes (6f) and a second place in the Forego Stakes (7f), so he was fully entitled to take a shot at the Breeders' Cup Sprint and would surely have been one of the market leaders if he had been able to take part.

But, as luck would have it, his trip from New York to California was wasted. After a disappointing work-out on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface he scoped badly, so trainer Steve Asmussen was obliged to scratch him and send him back whence he came.

TheBreeders' Cup was supposed to represent Kodiak Kowboy's swan-song, and if he had been able to sign off with a victory there, the sprint title would surely have been his. Now there was no suitable event at a sprint distance in which he might underline his claims, but there was a chance for further Grade 1 glory in the Cigar Mile Handicap, and that became his final objective.

The punters at Aqueduct, perhaps recalling his fifth place in the same event in 2008, were not convinced that the longer trip would suit him, sending him off as third favourite behind the coupled Godolphin contenders Vineyard Haven and Pyro and French-bred Bribon, but they were in for a surprise.

Vineyard Haven and Bribon appeared to have the race between them as they duelled into the final furlong, but Shaun Bridgmohan, having ridden Kodiak Kowboy closer to the pace than usual, conjured a telling burst of speed from his mount, who flashed home with three-quarters of a length to spare.

It might seem illogical that a victory over 1m might help to clinch the sprint title for Kodiak Kowboy, but in a year which has produced no real star in the division it will have done no harm to show his versatility and underline his overall merit.

Kodiak Kowboy comes from the first crop of his sire, Posse, is by some distance his most accomplished runner to date, and it will come as no surprise if he remains that horse's best representative.

Posse, a son of the twice-raced and twice successful Deputy Minister horse, Silver Deputy, was no superstar performer himself. He won two of his seven starts as a juvenile, more notably in the Grade 3 Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes, and in a busier campaign of 11 races at three he added five more wins, including the Grade 3 Lafayette Stakes and Grade 2 Riva Ridge Stakes, both over 7f.

Although he never won in Grade 1 company, he turned in some respectable efforts at that level, including a third in the Vosburgh Stakes, a fourth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and a fifth in the King's Bishop Stakes.

He went to stud at Vinery and made a promising start with seven two-year-old stakes-winners in his first crop, though only three were up to Graded calibre. Lantana Mob and No Advantage both scored in Grade 3.

Posse has not capitalised on that encouraging start. There have still been no stakes-winners from his second crop and just two to date, of no particular consequence, from his third. He has quickly gone cold in the market-place, forfeiting the faith of Kentucky breeders, and he has now been transferred to New York, where he cannot expect to receive many mares of quality.

Kodiak Kowboy replaces him at Vinery, as a decidedly better runner than his sire, and it remains to be seen what he will make of the opportunity. He will surely get decent chances at the outset, and if the Eclipse Award comes his way, his prospectswill seem brighter still.

Kodiak Kowboy comes from a respectable family, although his dam Kokadrie, a daughter of the short-lived dual Grade 1 winner Coronado's Quest, was unraced after her sale at Keeneland as an $80,000 yearling.

The best of her siblings, and the only one to score in stakes company, was West By West, a tough son of Gone West whose earnings topped the million-dollar mark. He had a Grade 1 score in the Nassau County Handicap on his cv, and was fourtimes placed at that level, in the Wood Memorial, the Suburban Handicap, and twice in the Whitney.

In addition, Kokadrie's dam West Turn was a sister to Little Missouri, also an accomplished performer at the top level, his great triumph coming as a four-year-old in the Brooklyn Handicap.

Bred by Hartwell Farm in Kentucky. $40,000 Keeneland November foal; $70,000 Ocala August yearling


PEDIGREE ASSESSMENT

Sire: Posse

Bred by Lawana L. and Robert E. Low in Kentucky. $115,000 Keeneland September yearling. Won 7 (4.5f-7f) of 18 races, viz. 2 (inc. Kentucky Breeders' Cup S.-Gr3) out of 7 at 2 years, 5 (inc. Lafayette S.-Gr3, Riva Ridge S.-Gr2) out of 11 at 3 years. Also Gr1-placed at 3. RPR 118 at 3. Earned $662,841.

Strong, well made individual, 16.2hh. Smart performer, evidently best at 7f.

Quite well bred. Sire unbeaten in 2 starts, responsible for 80 stakes-winners. Half-brother to 4 other winners, inc. Green Fee (by GreenDancer; Gr2). Dam placed, half-sister to 4 winners, inc. Matter of Courage (Listed). Grand-dam unplaced, half-sister to Gr3 winner Lady Lonsdale and Gr3-placed Listed winner Preemeptive Strike.

To stand 2010 at Empire Stud, Hudson, New York at a fee of $10,000. Sire of 3 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: Kodiak Kowboy (Carter H.-Gr1, Vosburgh S.-Gr1, Cigar Mile H.-Gr1), Lantana Mob (Gr3), No Advantage (Gr3).

Dam: Kokadrie

Bred by Warner L. Jones in Kentucky. $80,000 Keeneland September yearling. Unraced.

Quite well bred. By a top-class dual Gr1 winner who died young. Half-sister to 5 winners, inc. West By West (by Gone West; Gr1). Dam placed, sister to 2 winners, inc. Little Missouri (Gr1), half-sister to 5 other winners. Grand-dam stakes-placed winner of 6 races, sister to stakes-winner Ja Aglo, half-sister to 2other stakes-winners.

Tracing to noted broodmare Banish Fear, dam of Cosmic Bomb, ancestress of Prince John, Lamb Chop, Crystal Water, Jaazeiro, etc.

To stud at 3 years and dam of: Maria's Quest (2004 f by Maria's Mon; winner), Kodiak Kowboy (2005 c by Posse; multiple Gr1 winner), unnamed (2006 g by Golden Missile; unraced). She has a yearling colt by Lion Heart and a filly-foal by Giant's Causeway.

CONCLUSION

High-class sprinter-miler who signed off with a third Gr1 win and may well collect an Eclipse Award.

 

 

 

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