Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti's Fear The Cowboy looked an easy winner in Saturday's G3 Harlan's Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream Park, cruising to the lead under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano and crossing the wire 1 1/2 lengths in front. Off at odds of 7-2, the 5-year-old son of Cowboy Cal came rolling from well off the pace to complete 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.23. Trained by Efren Loza, Fear The Cowboy was sold for just $1,500 as a short yearling. Heavily favored Destin (7-5) was finding his best stride late, but ran out of racetrack and finished fourth.
“He's an amazing horse,” Loza said. “He's traveled a lot these years. Two days ago, we had to decide to ship him here or New Orleans, but he loves Gulfstream. The first time ridden by Javier – he did a good job.”
The speed-laden race had three different leaders in the first quarter mile. Richard the Great was up front heading into the first turn, but he got out significantly and forced Mr. Jordan to gun for the lead to avoid being pushed even wider. On Mr. Jordan's outside was Destin along with Conquest Big E, who ended up at least five wide around that turn.
Before straightening into the backstretch, Mr. Jordan would concede the lead to Conquest Big E. The first quarter split flashed in :22.37, but the pace eased a bit for a half in :46.20. Conquest Big E had a 1 1/2-length advantage over Mr. Jordan, followed by Richard the Great, Destin, and Page McKenney as the strung-out field approached the far turn.
Around the half-mile pole jockeys began asking their mounts to pick up the pace, but the only horse to really start picking up any ground was Fear the Cowboy from well off the pace. Castellano wove in and out of horses to put the horse in contention at the head of the lane, angling him to the center of the course to make his move.
Mr. Jordan had the lead in the stretch by a half-length over Richard the Great, but the long-striding Fear the Cowboy easily overwhelmed Mr. Jordan to hit the wire 1 1/2 lengths in front. Richard the Great held third over the favored Destin, and Frammento was fifth.
“It was a combination of a lot of speed in the race, and all the horses moved forward early into position,” Castellano said. “I was able to move inside and save all the ground and wait. Turning for home I saw all the horses start to come back right in front of me so I moved outside and the way he finished was phenomenal. He's a very professional horse, very straightforward. I've been watching his races and the way he runs. The trainer gave me an opportunity to ride the horse. My first horse I rode for him was two years ago at Delta Downs in a stakes race and we won. Now we're two-for-two. I think he's a great trainer and the way he develops horses is amazing.”
Bred in Kentucky by the University of Kentucky, Fear the Cowboy brought $1,500 as a short yearling at the Fasig-Tipton February mixed sale. He has now won two graded stakes and three listed ones, earning a record of nine wins in 27 starts for earnings of over $550,000. The win could put Fear the Cowboy in the mix for the Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 27.
“[The Pegasus World Cup] is a tough race,” said Loza, “but we are open to probably taking a chance, because on this track he runs well.”
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