JOEL ROSARIO, KOBE’S BACK, WINNER: “Last time he clipped heels and that was a tough race over at Hollywood. He handled the seven furlongs well today.
“I’ll talk to my agent, he makes all the calls, all the decisions (on whom I ride) but I like him; today was very impressive and he looked good today.”
MIKE SMITH, CHERUBIM, SECOND: “He was just cruising early, nice and happy. We just got outrun. He was second-best today.”
JOHN SADLER, KOBE’S BACK, WINNER: “I just wanted Joel to ride him patiently, because everybody has us kind of counted out of the route races, except us. 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.”
And next time would be? “We catch a little bit of an odd flow. We’re a little bit too quick for the San Felipe (March 8), so we’ll probably go with Kristo in that one and this horse we’ll look at maybe the Rebel (at Oaklawn Park March 15, Grade II, 1 1/16 miles). We’ll look around. 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.”
OWNER LEE SEARING OF C R K STABLE, LLC, KOBE’S BACK, WINNER: “I don’t think we have favorites. We bred (other Kentucky Derby hopeful, Candy Boy) and this horse (Kobe’s Back) was just asking to be bought. We buy a lot of two-year-olds but this was a special horse.
“I’ve said all along that he’s had three bad starts, he won the first one, got hammered in the second and we never had a chance out in the 12 hole last out. So finally, all the work John has put in and the right rider (has made the difference.) We asked Ron Anderson if Joel could come out here and ride and it was real nice.
“We go to all the Lakers’ games (addressing the name of the horse). I have gone 17 years to watch Kobe play and in my opinion, he’s the greatest basketball player I’ve ever watched. We tried to name a horse ‘Kobe’ but that was registered, but when we added something to it (it worked out.) I kept telling everyone Kobe is coming back (the player) so when it came time to name the horse I had been saying that a lot. I thought we had to do it.
“He can go two turns, even on the gallop out he just looks like it. Maybe now, with that sitting-back, stalking style, he’ll be ready to go two turns.
“We’ll let John decide where he runs next but we’re sure not going to race him and Candy Boy against one another. We’ll let John get him back to the barn and decide where to run them next.”
SIMON CALLAGHAN, CHERUBIM, SECOND: “I mean they went fast up front so maybe that set it up for a closer. It was fast. I’ll have to see what Mike says. He ran a good race still.”
NOTES: The winning owners are Lee and Susan Searing of Rancho Cucamonga, who race as C R K Stable, LLC.