08/06/2011 5:01PM

Mountaineer: Modern Cowboy shows heart in West Virginia Governors' victory

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Modern Cowboy overcame persistent traffic and two even more persistent rivals when emerging narrowly best in the $125,000 West Virginia Governor’s, the top secondary feature on an all-stakes Saturday card at the Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort in Chester, W.Va.

Rafael Bejarano was aboard his third of four winners on the card when urging Modern Cowboy to a hard-fought victory over Demarcation, the defending champion in the 1 1/16-mile Governor’s. Modern Cowboy, the only starter on the card for trainer Todd Pletcher, returned $4.40 as favorite after finishing in 1:45.40 over a fast track.

Breaking from post 1 in a field of seven older horses, Modern Cowboy was blocked behind horses on the first turn, then had to find his way through and around the opposition to get clear sailing for what became a grueling stretch drive. He gradually got the best of Demarcation, the second choice, with Omniscient, who loomed a major presence on the far outside throughout the drive, another back in third. The first two margins were a half-length and a half-length.

In other supporting stakes on the West Virginia Derby undercard:

* $85,000 Sen. Robert Byrd Memorial Stakes: This six-furlong race changed complexion in the first jump when Fabulous Strike, the 5-2 second choice, threw jockey Cornelio Velasquez leaving the gate. Tend ($14.60), with 2010 wins leader DeShawn Parker aboard, went on to lead most of the way in prevailing by 1 1/2 lengths over favored Native Ruler. Tend was making his first start in more than six months for trainer Joe Woodard. Velasquez was not seriously injured.

* $85,000 West Virginia Senate President’s Cup: Kiss Mine ($4), with Bejarano up, wore down a pair of longshots, Revelstoke and Oriental Bella, in the final furlong to post her second Mountaineer stakes victory of the year. Based at Churchill Downs with trainer David Vance, Kiss Mine a mile and 70 yards in 1:39.71 over a firm turf course. Only six fillies and mares started after six others were scratched.

* $85,000 Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies: Culotte ($9.40) redeemed for her failure as the favorite in the Grade 3 Debutante Stakes at Churchill when turning the tables on the Debutante winner, Flashy Lassie, who finished 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner in second. Culotte, a Kentucky-bred filly by Sky Mesa, is based at Churchill with Tom Amoss.

* $85,000 West Virginia Secretary of State: D’wild Ride ($7.80), the lukewarm favorite in a field of 10 filly-mare sprinters, edged clear under Bejarano to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths over 14-1 shot Rattlin Gypsy. Joe Orseno trains D’wild Ride, a 6-year-old Ontario-bred mare, at Monmouth Park.

* $85,000 West Virginia Legislature Chairman’s Cup: Immortal Eyes ($3.20) emerged a whisker best following a stretch-long duel with Heliopsis, a 48-1 shot. Based in Maryland with trainer Damon Dilodovico, Immortal Eyes completed 4 1/2 furlongs in 51.29 seconds for his fifth win and richest win in his last six starts. Travis Dunkelberger was up.

* $85,000 Mountaineer Juvenile: Chicago shipper Backdoor Kenny ($15.80) led from the start of the six-furlong race, finishing 5 1/4 lengths clear of Next Right Thing, the 4-5 favorite hindered by a stumbling start. Joe Talamo was aboard the winner for trainer Jimmy DiVito.

 

(dot) $85,000 West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup: Mystic ($8.40) was up in the final jumps to nail favored Strike Impact by a neck in this mile-and-70-yard turf finale. Jimmy Graham, who earlier won the Juvenile Fillies aboard Culotte, notched his second score of the day. Mystic is part of the Kentucky string trained by Bill Mott and overseen by Kenny McCarthy.

* $85,000 West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup: Mystic ($8.40) was up in the final jumps to nail favored Strike Impact by a neck in this mile-and-70-yard turf finale. Jimmy Graham, who earlier won the Juvenile Fillies aboard Culotte, notched his second score of the day. Mystic is part of the Kentucky string trained by Bill Mott and overseen by Kenny McCarthy.