HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Multiple stakes winner Fear the Cowboy made a triumphant return to Gulfstream Park on Saturday, closing well off the pace to win going away by three lengths in the Grade 3, $100,000 Skip Away.
“He runs every time and runs so hard. He runs one mile, one mile and a sixteenth, one mile and an eighth,” trainer Efren Loza Jr. said. “He is a horse I ship to different racetracks and he always does good. He has heart.”
Fear the Cowboy made his first seven career starts in South Florida, the last being a victory in the Three Chopt Road Stakes at Gulfstream. The son of Cowboy Cal has raced primarily in Louisiana, with stops in Kentucky, Minnesota, and Texas. The winner of last year’s Evangeline Mile, he finished second in the Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston in his most recent start.
Sent to post at 7-2, Fear the Cowboy settled off the pace set by Flashy Jewel, who was chased by Team Colors and the favored Zulu along the backstretch. The Kentucky-bred 5-year-old began to make progress leaving the backstretch under jockey Jesus Rios before making an outside sweep on the turn into the stretch. Flashy Jewel and Zulu began to shorten strides in the stretch and were no match for the fresh legs of Fear the Cowboy, who drew off impressively to win his first graded stakes and awarding his trainer with his first graded stakes success.
“We made the decision to come back to Gulfstream because the horse has run before here. He loves this track. We really liked the distance, one mile and an eighth,” Loza said. “We decided to bring him back to Gulfstream because the owners are from Florida and I’m from Florida. I’m happy. This is my first graded race [victory].”
Fear the Cowboy ran the 1 1 /8 miles in 1:51.81 to capture his seventh victory in 20 career starts.
“It went as we expected. I took the horse back and followed the speed and he finished strong. That was the plan, and it went perfectly,” said Rios through an interpreter. “I was sure [I would get there] because the leader was declining and I had a lot of horse. My horse is a warrior. I am very happy to win a Grade 3.”
Zulu, the even-money favorite, finished second, a neck in front of Flashy Jewel. Hy Riverside, Team Colors, and Joshua’s Compromise completed the order of finish.
“He ended up in a good position. He just kind of kept grinding it out, but no excuses. He was just second-best on the day,” said Todd Pletcher, Zulu’s trainer.
Fear the Cowboy returned $9.20, $3.60, and $2.60. Zulu brought back $2.80 and $2.20, while Flashy Jewel paid $2.60 to show.
Source: Gulfstream Park