Cozzetti leads full Kent field

Updated: September 20, 2012, 1:20 PM ET
By Claire Novak | Bloodhorse



American Derby winner Cozzetti seeks a return to winning ways in the $200,000 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park Sept. 22, but plenty of new rivals are ready to take him on after his sixth-place finish in the Aug. 18 Secretariat Stakes.

The 1 1/8-mile Kent has drawn 11 3-year-old turf contenders, including Lucky Chappy, Miami Cat, Optimizer, and the top three finishers from Monmouth Park's Aug. 19 Restoration Stakes. The Kent is race seven on a nine-race card, with an approximate post time of 4:15 p.m. EDT.

Cozzetti, by Cozzene, won the American Derby by a neck with a brilliant rail-scraping move at Arlington Park July 14, but had no bid next time out in the Secretariat for trainer Dale Romans. The American Derby had been his first victory since a five-length maiden score Nov. 16 on the dirt at Churchill Downs. Earlier this year, he was ambitiously placed along the Triple Crown trail but fared no better than a third-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derb, also running fourth in the Arkansas Derby and seventh in the Preakness Stakes for Albaugh Family Stable.

Jockey Shaun Brighmohan will be aboard the 120-pound co-highweight from post 2. Cozzetti shares top impost with Aug. 30 Equalize Stakes winner Miami Cat, who starts from post 8.

Miami Cat, by Powerful Goer, took the one-mile Equalize by a neck on the turf at Saratoga Race Course. Since starting his careerin March, the chestnut gelding has three wins from six outings for trainer Phillip Gleaves and co-owners Bruce Hollander and Seahorse Stable. Gleaves bred Miami Cat in Kentucky.

Lucky Chappy, third in the Saranac Stakes Sept. 2 at Saratoga last time out and runner-up in the July 21 Virginia Derby, also serves a powerful threat. The Graham Motion-trained son of High Chaparral was only off the board in one start this year, a UAE Derby try in which he ran seventh. In North America he had runner-up finishes in the Kitten's Joy Stakes and the El Camino Real Derby at the beginning of the year, and has been knocking at the door in his two starts for Team Valor International since returning from Dubai.

Optimizer, who recently broke through in allowance company on the Saratoga lawn after a tough Triple Crown campaign, looks to continue his climb up the ladder for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The 3-year-old son of English Channel won a 1 3/16-mile test at the Spa by 2 1/4 lengths, his first victory since his maiden win in August of 2011. The Bluegrass Hall homebred could now step it up for his first graded stakes score after running off the board in all the Triple Crown races - 11th in the Kentucky Derby, sixth in the Preakness, and 10th in the Belmont Stakes.

The Restoration Stakes trio is led by winner Corinthian's Jewel, a lightly-raced son of Corinthian who came directly off a maiden score at third asking to get the 1 3/4-length victory going the Kent distance for R. A. Hill Stable and Shirley K. Stables. Directly behind the George Weaver trainee was Unbroken, closing from sixth with a good finish on the outside.

Unbroken, trained by Steve Epley Jr. for Chempar, Inc., is an Unbridled's Song gelding who came into the Restoration off back-to-back maiden and allowance wins at Delware.

GDS Racing Stable's Star Channel was third in the Restoration, and of the three has faced the best company, but not with positive results. In his graded stakes debut for trainer Todd Pletcher, the May 4 American Turf, the son of English Channel swerved in and out approaching the stretch and unseated jockey Javier Castellano. In the June 16 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont Park he was seventh, and has failed to win in three attempts at overnight stakes since then.

New York-bred King Kreesa and Excaper, runner-up in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, ran fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Saranac. Allowance winners Twilight Eclipse and Two Months Rent complete the field.