West Will Power says “Catch me if you can!” in the G2 Hagyard Fayette (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)
By Amber Joyce
LEXINGTON, Ky.— Gary and Mary West’s homebred West Will Power took command early and glided to an easy victory in Saturday’s G2, $350,000 Hagyard Fayette at Keeneland, adding a graded stakes win to his resume.
Exiting from the one hole in the five-horse field, West Will Power was quick from the get-go under Joel Rosario, easily scooping up the lead while racing in the three path. G2 Oaklawn Handicap winner Last Samurai stalked him from the outside, last year’s G3 Lexington winner King Fury alongside. Positions of the top three remained unchanged through tepid fractions of 25.17, 49.17, and 1:13.93. Rounding the far turn, West Will Power showed the way by two lengths in hand, increasing that margin even more down the stretch, driving away to score by six and three-quarter lengths.
The final time for the mile and an eighth event run on a fast main track was 1:50.68. One mile went in 1:38.67.
Finishing second behind West Will Power was his stablemate, Fulsome, who trailed for much of the race. Last Samurai tired and settled for third ahead of King Fury. Favored First Captain never responded and finished last by nineteen and three-quarter lengths.
West Will Power, co-favorite at 6-5, rewarded backers $4.74, $3.10, and $3.28 for his win. Fulsome paid $4.56 and $4.58 at 6-1. For his third-place finish, First Samurai paid $5.52. The exacta returned $7.74 to those who hit it.
“I think (West Will Power) likes being on the front. He likes the two turns,” said Brad Cox, trainer of West Will Power and runner-up Fulsome. “I want to start by thanking Team West (owners Gary and Mary West) for giving us the horse. We had to back off him last fall; he had a couple of minor issues. They gave him plenty of time. They were patient, and patience pays off in this game. It worked out today. I was very proud of the horse and the effort.”
The win in the Fayette stamped Cox’s position atop the trainer rankings for Keeneland’s Fall Meet. When asked how it feels to wrap up another title (Cox secured the Fall Meet title in both 2021 and 2020), Cox was all smiles. “It’s great. Keeneland is very special to us, to our whole team. It means a lot to come here both in the spring and the fall. They’re both tough meets. They’re short but they’re tough.”
“I’m very proud of my son, (assistant trainer) Blake (Cox),” he added. “This is his second time being here in the fall. I’m proud of my whole team, but he stepped up, he did a good job, and I can tell you he really wanted to win this, or be part of it. The whole team, the whole staff: Congratulations to our group and our team and the Wests as well.”
When asked about the race, Joel Rosario said West Will Power looked very comfortable on the front end. “Like (trainer) Brad (Cox) said, ‘Just let him go do his thing.’ He was pretty confident today and turning for home he just kept moving forward.”
Luis Saez, aboard beaten favorite First Captain explained that his mount just couldn’t stay going. “He rode with them, but he couldn’t keep going; he just couldn’t stay going. From the beginning I thought they went pretty quick in front and when we tried to get going he never responded.”
West Will Power entered the Fayette off of a solid allowance optional claiming score in September at Churchill Downs, his first win in over a year. Since breaking his maiden late in his three-year-old campaign, the five-year-old son of Bernardini was stakes-placed twice before the Fayette, most recently second in the R.A. “Cowboy” Jones Overnight Stakes at Ellis Park and second in last year’s G3 Phillip H. Iselin at Monmouth Park. He has run twelve times, has won five of those races, and has been second in five more. Overall he has amassed earnings of $525,230.
West Will Power is out of the superbly talented Wild Event mare Wild Promises, who won thirteen of her twenty career starts, seven of those in stakes races, including the G3 My Charmer Handicap.
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