08/05/2017 6:07PM

Fear the Cowboy rebounds with West Virginia Governor’s Cup

Coady Photography
Fear the Cowboy paid $18.80 to win the West Virginia Governor's Cup on Saturday.

Fear the Cowboy was nipped on the wire after taking a midstretch lead three weeks ago in the $100,000 Schaefer Memorial Stakes at Indiana Grand, but Saturday at Mountaineer Casino and Resort he held firm in the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Cup beating Iron Fist by two lengths.

Iron Fist, who had tracked the pace winning the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker in his last start, fell far behind fractions of 23.96 and 48.24 set by Red Dragon Tattoo, who was chased by 5-2 favorite Matt King Coal, but finished well to be a defined second, well clear of Matt King Coal in third. Outrun for the early lead, Matt King Coal pressed and pounced, taking the lead after six furlongs in 1:12.33, but he came up fairly empty the final furlong.

Fear the Cowboy ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.62 and paid $18.80 to win.

Jesus Rios gave Fear the Cowboy a fine trip from midpack, and though he might have been stuck a little closer to what appeared to be a very dead rail than would have been ideal, Fear the Cowboy came outside for his major run at the quarter pole. He quickly collared Matt King Coal and finished with good energy for his eighth win in 24 starts.

Fear the Cowboy has run at eight different venues in his last eight starts, but seems to handle a variety of surfaces.

“We've been trying to catch some races that fit him at different tracks, and he travels well,” trainer Efren Loza Jr. said. “He always tries hard.”

Fear the Cowboy, owned by Kathleen Amaya and Raffael Centofanti, is by Cowboy Cal and out of the Soto mare Whom Shall I Fear. The 5-year-old horse is approaching a half-million dollars in career earnings.

*** First Growth, claimed for $5,000 on Jan. 16, won his seventh race in a row and first stakes when he nipped Bucchero by a neck in the $75,000 Senator Robert C. Byrd Memorial. First Grown ($31.20) was ridden to victory by Terry Houghton for owner-trainer Odin Londono Jr. He ran six furlongs in 1:09.63.

*** La Piba got a perfect trip under Corey Lanerie and nailed pace-setting Corby by a neck to win the $75,000 West Virginia President’s Cup Stakes. Brad Cox was listed as trainer for La Piba, though the horse has raced throughout her career for trainer Ignacio Correas, who co-owns the Lookin at Lucky filly. La Piba ($6.60) was given a time of 1:37.89 for one mile, 70 yards on “good” turf, but the posted and charted early fractions, 21.70 and 44.90, seem highly improbable in a two-turn grass race.

*** Roman Officer won the $75,000 West Virginia Legislature Chairman’s Cup for the second year in a row, scoring a front-running one-length victory over American Sailor in the 4 1/2-furlong dirt race. Roman Officer was timed in 51.37 over a fast track and paid $4.20 to win. Kenneth Patterson trains the 6-year-old gelding for owner Robert Coal. Roman Officer notched his 13th win from 40 starts.

*** Ivy Bell stumbled at the start of the $75,000 West Virginia Secretary of State Stakes but still came down the middle of the track to win by 1 1/2 lengths, going away. Ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. for trainer Bill Denzik Jr. and Brook T. Smith Investments, Ivy Bell is a 4-year-old daughter of Archarcharch. She paid $7 to win and was timed in 1:10.36 for six furlongs on a fast track. I’m A Looker’s rally got bogged down a bit on the inside but she still finished two lengths clear of Kinsley Kisses for the place.

*** Trainer Mike Maker ran one-two in the $75,000 West Virginia House of Delegate’s Speaker’s Cup as Special Ops, claimed for $50,000 on June 18 by Skychai Racing, beat Galton, claimed for $62,500 on June 4, by 1 1/4 lengths. Special Ops, who pressed the pace and took the lead in upper stretch, was timed in 1:38.40 for one mile, 70 yards on a “good” turf course and paid $6.40 to win. The 6-year-old gelding, ridden by Julien Leparoux, is by Big Brown.