Fear the Cowboy, a $1,500 short yearling purchase from the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky February mixed sale, put himself in line for a potential start in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) with a well-timed victory in the $100,000 Harlan's Holiday Stakes (G3) Dec. 16 at Gulfstream Park.
After Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti's 5-year-old son of Cowboy Cal rallied for a 2 1/4-length victory in Saturday's 1 1/16-mile test, trainer Efren Loza Jr. said the multiple graded stakes winner could be available to a Pegasus World Cup stakeholder looking for a contender to run in the Jan. 27 event.
"(The Pegasus World Cup) is a tough race, but we are open to probably taking a chance, because on this track he runs well," Loza said.
Fear the Cowboy, who improved his overall record to 9-7-2 from 27 starts Saturday, won his fourth race from six starts at Gulfstream and his second graded stakes there under a patient ride from Javier Castellano.
Rated off the pace and saving ground, as Conquest Big E set fractions of :23.37 and :46.20 through a half-mile while dueling with Mr. Jordan. Mr. Jordan regained the lead from Conquest Big E at the quarter pole, but he was no match for Fear the Cowboy, who made a closing run from fifth, swept wide around the final turn, and powered clear.
"It was a combination of a lot of speed in the race, and all the horses moved forward early into position," said Castellano, who was aboard Fear the Cowboy for the first time. "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 final time was 1:42.23 on a fast track.
Fear the Cowboy, who captured the Skip Away Stakes (G3) by three lengths at Gulfstream in March, ran in six stakes over six different tracks before he returned to the Hallandale Beach oval for Saturday's win. His earnings, collected at 12 racetracks overall, now total $570,869.
"He's an amazing horse. He's traveled a lot these years. Two days ago, we had to decide to ship him (from Louisville) here or New Orleans (for the Tenacious Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots), but he loves Gulfstream," Loza said. "The first time ridden by Javier—he did a good job."
Fear the Cowboy returned $9, $4.40, and $3.40. Mr. Jordan hung on gamely to finish second, a neck in front of Richard the Great. Destin, favored at 7-5 in the field of nine, came in fourth, and was followed home by Frammento, Conquest Big E, Flatlined, Page McKenney, and Joshua's Comprise.
Bred by the University of Kentucky out of the Soto mare Whom Shall I Fear, Fear the Cowboy has finished first or second in 16 of his 27 starts.
"He has a big heart. He always tries," Loza said. "We're happy to have a horse like him."