The runner-up to a horse that was subsequently awarded the victory in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth via the disqualification of Upstart, Fear the Cowboy was hardly overmatched in Sunday's $75,000 Three Chopt Road Stakes at Gulfstream. The question handicappers had to ask themselves was: Is the 3-year-old son of Cowboy Cal ready to beat seven rivals in his first start since his solid try on Jan. 4?
Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti's Kentucky-bred answered that question with a resounding 'yes' as he surged through the stretch with massive strides to post a 3 1/4-length victory in the seven-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds in his first start for trainer Efren Loza Jr.
"We knew from the beginning, when he won the maiden special weight race, that he had a lot of class," said Centofanti, whose new stakes winner broke his maiden in his second lifetime start last September. "He wasn't ready when he ran against Itsaknockout. We took our time with him, took care of a few issues and changed trainers. We had to put the right team together. It took time and it all paid off."
Two medical procedures were performed on Fear the Cowboy since January: an undescended testicle was removed and a tie-back procedure was performed to correct a breathing issue. Fear the Cowboy was also given time to grow into his strapping frame.
After an alert break, Fear the Cowboy was outrun along the backstretch as Sing Praises, the 2-1 favorite, sprinted to the lead under jockey Edgard Zayas and showed the way into turn, where he met a challenge by stablemate Hear That Tune and Unbridled Hero. The long-striding Fear the Cowboy got into gear while making a wide sweeping move leaving the turn into the homestretch under jockey Pedro Cotto Jr. as Sing Praises sprinted to a clear lead at the top of the stretch. The pacesetter, however, tired late as Fear the Cowboy powered his way to victory with an outside drive. Aces for John closed late to finish a non-threatening second under Jose Cruz, a head in front of Sing Praises.
Fear the Cowboy, the 6-1 fifth betting choice, ran seven furlongs in 1:23.86.
"He was working really good. He had a good work from the gate at five furlongs," Loza said. "I think two-turns will be better from him."