05/01/2014 10:26AM

Meadowlands: Ideal Cowboy ready for Simpson Memorial test

Curtis Salonick
Ideal Cowboy romped at Pocono Downs in his 3-year-old debut.

It’s the first Saturday in May and most followers of horse racing have their eyes cast in Kentucky. Those that fancy the standardbreds will get a glimpse of the future of the three-year-old pacing class as the Meadowlands hosts the $47,253 John Simpson Memorial. The race marks the first pari-mutuel start of the year for Governor’s Cup winner J K Endofanera. It will mark the second start of the year for the P J Fraley-trained Ideal Cowboy. The American Ideal-sired gelding spent last year in Ontario away from major stakes action.

“He was a handful when we got him last year,” said Fraley. “We gelded him and I think that’s made a difference.”

Ideal Cowboy showed potential last year racing at Mohawk.

“He beat the Breeders Crown winner in his last start,” said Fraley, pointing to the 1:53 3/5 effort from off the pace while defeating future Crown champion Luck Bewith You.

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Ideal Cowboy qualified back strongly and then captured his first start of the year on April 27 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in a brisk 1:52 mile. “It was a cool and windy night,” said Fraley, “I thought he raced very well.”

On Saturday, Fraley is aware of the competition, with J K Endofanera from post five the logical choice. “It will be a good test for him but I think he’s up for it,” said Fraley.

Ideal Cowboy was purchased last fall by Bamond Racing LLC and J & T Silva Stables LLC. The owners have high expectations for the winner of three of just six lifetime starts.

“He’s been made eligible to the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace,” said Fraley.

It’s hard not to believe that Fraley’s magic touch could help elevate Ideal Cowboy much in the same fashion the trainer took the reformed claimer P H Supercam and turned him into the George Morton Levy champion of 2014.

“After the draw, I was hoping we could get a third-place check,” said Fraley of the Levy final. “Even at the three-quarters in 1:24 and change I didn’t think we had a chance. But things worked out.”

The Simpson field (race six of 13) puts together a solid group including Allstar Partner, a second-place finisher to the impressive Always B Miki in last week’s Reynolds. The altered son of Four Starzzz Shark drew post eight in the field of 10.

Trainer Linda Toscano could have a sleeper in the lightly-raced Somewhere Fancy. The sophomore took a 1:52 3/5 record and was timed in 1:50 in stakes action at the Red Mile last fall. Somewhere Fancy landed post 10.

But bettors will have a hard time looking past the solid past performances and connections behind J K Endofanera. An addition to the Ron Burke stable late last season, the homebred has finished first or second in all seven lifetime starts, taking home first prize in the $534,500 Governor’s Cup last November at the Meadowlands. Yannick Gingras picks up the driving assignment for Saturday night.

Players may have another price option in Jet Airway, an Ontario-bred son of Jereme’s Jet that took a 1:50 2/5 mark at the Red Mile last September. He’s making his sophomore debut from post seven in the Simpson.

While the Simpson will be the first stop for many for the heavyweight division, Fraley, fresh off his Levy success, outlined his plan for the race winner.

“I’m going to keep him on the half-mile tracks,” said Fraley, “That’s where he races best. We’ll probably point him for the Joseph W. Gerrity at Saratoga and he could go to Batavia for a $50,000 invitational.”

Mach It So came out of the Levy final without a check and Fraley suggested the four-year-old would be heading to Canada for his next few races, and he hoped that at some point in the season he would be up to doing battle with the elite Free-For-Allers.

Despite some disappointments in the Blue Chip Matchmaker, Fraley is far from ready to give up on the classy Anndrovette, or for that matter last year’s Breeders Crown winner Shelliscape. “Those races were tough on both mares,” said Fraley. “I’m going to give them a few weeks off and we’ll see where we go from there.”

Fraley was restricted earlier this year from racing any horses at the Meadowlands but apparently an agreement has been reached between the trainer and track management. “I’m satisfied with the decision,” said Fraley.