KOBE’S BACK RAMBLES FROM OFF PACE TO TAKE GRADE II SAN VICENTE BY 5 ¼ LENGTHS UNDER ROSARIO, SADLER TRAINEE CASTS HIMSELF AS TOP DERBY PROSPECT & WILL GO TWO TURNS IN NEXT START

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 16, 2014)—Last early, Kobe’s Back made an eye-catching move around the far turn and went on to an emphatic 5 ¼ length win in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Vicente Stakes, covering seven furlongs in 1:21.84 while repositioning himself as one of Southern California’s top Derby prospects.

Ridden by Florida-based Joel Rosario and trained by John Sadler, Kobe’s Back came off a nightmarish trip in which he nearly fell, in the Grade I, 1 1/16 miles CashCall Futurity Dec. 14, but he enjoyed clear sailing today as he blew by 8-5 second choice Cherubim a sixteenth of a mile out.

“I wanted Joel to ride him patiently, because everybody has kind of counted us out of the route races, except us,” said Sadler. “I wanted him off the pace a little bit and see if he’d finish up good so we could get him going around two turns next time…We’ll look at maybe the Rebel (Grade II, 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Park March 15)…There are a lot of 3-year-old races, but we wanted to get a good one at home in good weather first, then we’re going to look at a race with (Kentucky Derby) points for him in the next one.”

The actual favorite at 8-5, Kobe’s Back, a Kentucky-bred colt by the A.P. Indy stallion Flatter, paid $5.40, $2.80 and $2.40.

Owned by Lee and Susan Searing’s CRK Stable, “Kobe,” who broke from the outside post position six, picked up $120,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $120,250. He now has two wins and a second from four starts.

“We go to all the Laker games,” said Lee Searing, when asked about the naming of his colt. “I have gone 17 years to watch Kobe play and in my opinion, he’s the greatest basketball player I’ve ever watched…I kept telling everyone Kobe (Bryant) is coming back (from an Achilles injury) so when it came time to name the horse…I thought we had to do it.”

Ridden by Mike Smith, Cherubim, highly regarded on the strength of 3 ¼ length maiden win going six furlongs on Dec. 28, showed good speed from post five and was three-deep outside of Papa Turf and Grazen’s Hope into and around the turn and although he kicked clear leaving the quarter pole, he was no match for the winner when it counted.

“I was just cruising early, nice and happy,” said Smith. “We just got outrun. He was second-best today.”

Trained by Simon Callaghan, Cherubim finished a length in front of Rprettyboyfloyd and paid $3.00 and $2.60.

Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Rprettyboyfloyd, the lone maiden in the field at 6-1, was next-to-last early and tagged Papa Turf by a half length late for third money and paid $3.00 to show.

Fractions on the race were 22.73, 45.00 and 1:09.25.

Racing resumes on Presidents’ Day, Monday, with first post time at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.