Paco Lopez guides Fulsome to victory in the West Virginia Governor’s Stakes at Mountaineer
Though the Brad Cox-trained Home Brew finished fourth in the West Virginia Derby (G3) after a troubled start, Cox had another banner day Saturday at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort . As was the case in 2018, Cox won three stakes, including the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes (G3).
All three were ridden by Paco Lopez, who came in from Monmouth Park for five mounts, all trained by Cox.
Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Fulsome capped it off with a 1 ¼-length score in the Governor’s Stakes. The 3-year-old Into Mischief colt was sixth but never far back in a bunched field and took over at the top of the stretch. The time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:43.48 and the winner paid $3.40.
Fulsome, a three-time Grade 3 stakes winner before his first trip to Mountaineer, now has four, and he cleared the $1 million mark in earnings.
“Paco rode a good race,” said Cox assistant Ricky Giannini, who usually handles the duties on West Virginia Derby day. “He didn’t have him too far back even though the horse likes to drop back early. Sometimes when he gets clear he loses focus, but Paco said he didn’t. He’s just a notch below the Grade 1-type of horses but he’s very honest and consistent.”
Giannini said several races are on the table for Fulsome—a race at Churchill Downs or the Parx Dirt Mile in September, and the Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keeneland in October.
Cox also won the $75,000 West Virginia Senate President’s Cup for fillies and mares at one mile and 70 yards with Adventuring, and the $75,000 West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup for 3-year-olds and up at one mile and 70 yards with Price Talk. Both races were taken off the turf.
Godolphin homebred Adventuring hadn’t raced since December 2021 but had been working regularly at Horseshoe Indianapolis. The 4-year-old Pioneerof the Nile filly has now won on dirt—fast or wet—turf and the synthetic Tapeta surface.
Price Talk, owned by Gaining Ground Racing, was claimed for $80,000 in June and followed up with a near-miss second in an allowance race at Horseshoe Indianapolis for his new connections. The 5-year-old Kitten’s Joy gelding prefers grass but has now won twice on dirt.
“It was a good race off the layoff,” Giannini said of Adventuring’s effort. “She broke her maiden in an off-the-turf race last year. Paco said she wasn’t flat, but she didn’t accelerate like she has on the turf. We’re looking at a race at Kentucky Downs for her.
“Hopefully there are bigger and better things for (Price Talk). There is a restricted race at Kentucky Downs for him. He has improved a lot since we got him.”
Though four races were transferred to the main track from the turf because of heavy showers in the morning, total pari-mutuel handle on the nine-race Mountaineer program was $2.26 million, up 29.2% from 2021.