Fox Hill Farm’s and Vinery Stables’ favored Kodiak Kowboy took the long way home Saturday afternoon under jockey Gabriel Saez, but was horse enough for the journey has he put in a big finish to win the 56th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Sport Page Handicap by a length and three-quarters over Eternal Star.
The seven-furlong sprint for three-year-olds and up was co-featured with the Grade 3 Knickerbocker Handicap on an abbreviated seen-race Belmont Park card, as the rest of the day was devoted to simulcasting of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships from Santa Anita. Sunday will mark the final day of Belmont Park’s Fall Championship Meet, with racing resuming on Wednesday, October 29 at Aqueduct Racetrack
The victory, before a crowd of 4,756, halted an 0-for-2 streak at Belmont Park for Kodiak Kowboy, and sets up the 3-year-old Posse colt for Aqueduct’s Grade 1, $300,000 Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile on Saturday, November 29.
“It worked out well for us,” said trainer Larry Jones, whose charge paid $5.70 to win. “This race is what we needed -- something to do between now and the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile, which is our objective. I saw him starting to weave through the lane, which took be aback, but Gabriel (Saez) said the wind was blowing so hard, so that’s why.”
Saez settled his mount in good position early, keeping him close to a pace of 22.93, 46.42 and 1:11.30. As Shopton Lane, Roi Maudit and Merchant Marine scrambled up front, the pack began to bunch up on the turn, and Saez, sensing he would need room, swung his mount out to loop the field.
Even though they battled wind through the lane, Saez and Kodiak Kowboy were comfortable winners in 1:24.88 on the fast main track.
“He broke good and I just kept trying to improve my position,” Saez said. “Finally, there was no room on the inside, so I went outside. The wind was blowing pretty hard. He’s a really nice horse.”
Roi Maudit was third, followed by Merchant Marine, Gold Trippi, Aquino (URU), Shopton Lane and Premium Wine.
He’s So Chic and Ravalo were scratched.
Entering Sunday’s card, trainer Gary Contessa holds 16-15 lead over Richard Dutrow Jr. in the standings, while Edgar Prado holds a more secure 43-131 edge over Eibar Coa in the leading jockey standings.
SPORT PAGE HANDICAP QUOTES
Winning trainer Larry Jones of Kodiak Kowboy (No. 8): “It worked out well for us. This race is what we needed -- something to do between now and the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile, which is our objective [Grade 1, $300,000, 3 and up, one mile, Aqueduct Racetrack, Saturday, November 29]. I saw him starting to weave through the lane, which took be aback, but Gabriel (Saez) said the wind was blowing so hard, so that’s why. He’ll be going back to Delaware in the morning to get ready for the Cigar Mile.”
Winning jockey Gabriel Saez: “He broke good and I just kept trying to improve my position. Finally, there was no room on the inside, so I went outside. The wind was blowing pretty hard. He’s a really nice horse.”