Cowboy Culture took a key step forward in his maturation process when the son of Quality Road drew off as he pleased in the final furlong to win the $100,000 Arlington Classic Stakes (G3T) by 5 3/4 lengths over Gorgeous Kitten May 27.
Cowboy Culture's first two tries against graded stakes company didn't exactly yield results that suggested he'd have a big run Saturday. After taking the Keith Gee Memorial Overnight Stakes in his seasonal bow at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Feb. 4, the 3-year-old bay colt finished seventh in the March 4 Palm Beach Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream Park and didn't fire while hitting the wire sixth in the Transylvania Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (G3T) April 7.
The venture to Arlington International Racecourse proved much more to Cowboy Culture's liking as he settled midpack early under Shaun Bridgmohan while graded stakes winner Fast and Accurate took the six-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in :24.68 and a half-mile in :49.97.
Angled out turning for home, Cowboy Culture put all of the above in their place when he ran down the middle of the track with increasing power, hitting the line in 1:46.81 for the 1 1/16-miles trip over yielding ground.
"With the first two ships (for graded stakes), especially the Gulfstream one, he didn't really handle traveling too well and of course we didn't find that out until we got down there," said Ricky Giannini, assistant trainer to Brad Cox. "He faced some tough competition at Keeneland but he's just matured over the last six or seven weeks that he's had between races. He's hopefully making that graduation step."
Mike Maker trainee Gorgeous Kitten was last on the run up the backstretch but was able to pick his way through traffic in the lane under Chris Emigh to grab second. Another half-length behind was Parlor, who flattened out in the final eighth of a mile, while Fast and Accurate faded to fourth. Sakonnet and Giant Payday completed the order of finish.
Cowboy Culture paid $7, $5, and $3 across the board.
Owned by Head of Plains Partners and Cheyenne Stables, Cowboy Culture broke his maiden on the turf at Churchill Downs last October and had won his first three starts before losing the Palm Beach Stakes. Bred in Kentucky by Rhineshire Farm and out of the Smart Strike mare English Willow, Cowboy Culture has now won four of six starts with $150,580 in earnings. He was purchased by Cromwell Bloodstock for $100,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale.