Coal Front Game in Two-Turn Test in Razorback

Courtesy of the TDN

8th at OP , Gr. Stk, $500,000 GIII Razorback H. (1 1/16m) Winner: Coal Front, r, 5 by Stay Thirsty

Coal Front | Coady Photography

Monday, Oaklawn Park
RAZORBACK H.-GIII, $500,000, Oaklawn, 2-18, 4yo/up, 1 1/16m, 1:43.45, ft.
1–COAL FRONT, 120, r, 5, by Stay Thirsty
1st Dam: Miner’s Secret, by Mineshaft
2nd Dam: Madam Lagonza, by Kingmambo
3rd Dam: Hire a Brain, by Seattle Slew
‘TDN Rising Star’
(Kirkwood prepared and sold $575,000 2yo ’16 OBSAPR).
O-Robert V.LaPenta & Head of Plains Partners LLC;
B-Michael EdwardConnelly (KY)
T-Todd A. Pletcher; J-John R. Velazquez.
Lifetime Record: 8-6-0-0, $777,280.

Coal Front made his first start around two turns a winning one, leading home a ‘TDN Rising Star’ exacta over Copper Bullet in Hot Springs Monday.

Away to a sharp start from the often-tricky post 14, Coal Front immediately locked horns with California invader All Out Blitz (Concord Point) heading into the first turn and the pair sparred through a sharp opening quarter-mile in :22.78. Coal Front allowed his pace rival to momentarily spurt clear after that juncture, but quickly reasserted himself heading into the far turn. Striking the front in mid-stretch, the dark bay dug in determinedly to hold off a persistent late bid from Copper Bullet to claim the victory. Longshot Rated R Superstar, who encountered some traffic trouble while closing from the back of the pack, settled for third at odds of 70-1.

Coal Front displayed significant talent from the outset of his career, capturing his first three starts, including the GII Amsterdam S. at Saratoga in July 2017. He added a victory in the GIII Gallant Bob S. in September of that year, but was subsequently sent to the sidelines for an extended layup. Returning to action 13 months later with a fifth-place finish in Aqueduct’s GIII Bold Ruler S. Nov. 2, he got back on track with an authoritative score in the GIII Mr. Prospector S. at Gulfstream Dec. 22. The son of Stay Thirsty posted a steady series of drills at Todd Pletcher’s Palm Beach Downs base in preparation for his two-turn debut.

Pedigree Notes:

Coal Front’s dam Miner’s Secret is an unraced half-sister to MGSW turfer Woodlander (Forestry), SW Admiral Alex (Afleet Alex) and to the dam of GSW Azar (Scat Daddy). In addition to SW/GSP Conquest Titan (Birdstone), Miner’s Secret is represented by a 2-year-old filly by Pioneerof the Nile and a yearling colt by American Pharoah. She was bred to Arrogate last year.


SPLASHY KISSES, a GULFSTREAM GALLOP graduate adds G3 black-type in the SWEET LIFE S at Santa Anita

Gaining a graded stakes-placing in the  GII Pocahontas S at 2,  SPLASHY KISSES opened her 3-year-old campaign adding more graded black-type to her pedigree page running 3rd in the G3- Sweet Life S  at Santa Anita.

SPLASHY KISSES was one of the five 2-year-olds purchased as yearlings in 2017 under the name Gulfstream Gallop sold at the 2018 Gulfstream auction. The Blame filly was a maiden winner at Del Mar in August and finished second in the GII Pocahontas S. at Churchill Downs.

“We feel great about last year’s results,” Elser said. “That vindicates the project. We have some later-developing horses who ran well first time and look like they are okay. But to have the one filly be graded placed in the first small group of relatively inexpensive horses is very gratifying. I’ve checked with everybody who has one and they are pleased enough. They are going to win their share, they think.”

After putting a toe in the water last year, Elser’s client decided to increase his investment going into the 2018 yearling sales.

Gulfstream Gallop opened its 2018 yearling purchases with a $50,000 colt by Bayern  at the Fasig-Tipton July sale and purchased a colt by Flatter  for the same price at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. It made its biggest purchase of the year with a $65,000 daughter of Street Sense  one of three purchased at the Fasig-Tipton October sale.


MUCHO GUSTO: TDN Derby Top 12 for Feb. 5

10) MUCHO GUSTO (c, Mucho Macho Man–Itsagiantcauseway, by Giant’s Causeway)
O-Michael Lund Petersen. B-Teneri Farm Inc. & Bernardo Alvarez Calderon (KY). T-Bob Baffert. Sales History: $14,000 Ylg ’17 KEEJAN; $95,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP; $55,000 RNA 2yo ’18 OBSMAR; $625,000 2yo ’18 EASMAY. Lifetime Record: MGSW & GISP, 4-3-1-0, $234,000.
Last Start: 1st, GIII Robert B. Lewis S., SA, Feb. 2
Next Start: Uncommitted
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 14.
Newsflash: Bob Baffert has sent out the favorite in every graded dirt stakes for male juveniles/sophomores on the SoCal circuit dating back to September. That’s a span of six races, and he’s now won five of them (including one race when the fave lost but his higher-priced entry won). ‘TDN Rising Star’ Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man) is the latest to hit the winner’s circle, but the lack of depth in Saturday’s five-horse GIII Lewis S. and a sealed/sloppy surface make it tough to get a true read on where this $625,000 EASMAY colt stands in the pecking order. Mucho Gusto broke alertly, backed off the lead, then targeted the pacemaker all the way down the backside before inhaling that overtaxed rival while in hand midway on the far bend. Mucho Gusto seemed to momentarily stall for a stride or two when set down for the drive three-sixteenths out, then quickly recovered, responding to more energetic rousing while kicking clear to win by a geared-down 4 3/4 lengths. In the post-race interview, Baffert expressed satisfaction that Mucho Gusto got to the next level by learning to relax off the pace. Yet with reference to sidelined ‘TDN Rising Star’ stablemate Tale of the Union (Union Rags), who is also owned by Michael Petersen, Baffert conceded “This was actually the second string here–but he’s a pretty good horse.”

Mucho Gusto Moves Into Top 10 of NTRA 3-Year-Old Poll

Mucho Gusto debuts this week at No. 4 in the NTRA Top 3-year-old poll
Mucho Gusto debuts this week at No. 4 in the NTRA Top 3-year-old poll


Kirkwood consigned MUCHO GUSTO brought $625,000 at the Fasig Tipton Midlantic Sale at Timonium in 2018.

An open-length victory in the grade 3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes Feb. 2 at Santa Anita Park was enough to earn Mucho Gusto a place in the top 10 in this week’s National Thoroughbred Racing Association top 3-year-old poll.

Owned by Michael Lund Petersen, Mucho Gusto became the latest sophomore from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert to stamp himself within the division. He debuts at No. 4 in this week’s poll.

“This is the time of the year when you want to start getting excited about something (on the Triple Crown trail),” Baffert said after the race. “We’re still dreaming in Technicolor, but they have to start performing and they have to move forward from here, but it’s a fun position to be in.”

Baffert trainees make up three of the top four spots in the poll. Eclipse Award winner Game Winner remains in first with 37 first-place votes and 405 points. Improbable is second (3 first-place votes, 350 points) with War of Will, trained by Mark Casse, sitting third (1 first-place vote, 273 points).

Top 3-year-old poll
Rank    horse    points (first-place votes)

1.    Game Winner    405 (37)
2.    Improbable    350 (3)
3.    War of Will    273 (1)
4.    Mucho Gusto    220
5.    Instagrand    163
6.    Knicks Go    135
7.    Hidden Scroll    118
8.    Signalman    102
9.    Gunmetal Gray    88
10.    Tax    66


Mucho Gusto Settles, Surges in Robert B. Lewis Stakes

Mucho Gusto Settles, Surges in Robert B. Lewis Stakes

Mucho Macho Man colt showed a different dimension at Santa Anita Park.

MUCHO GUSTO was consigned by Kirkwood to the Fasig Tipton Timonium sale in 2018 where he brought $625,000.

At first, Joe Talamo’s move aboard Mucho Gusto in the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park seemed puzzling.

The apparent clear pacesetter on paper in a field of five, Michael Lund Petersen’s 3-year-old Mucho Macho Man  colt got out of the gate best, but when Kid Cantina and Magnificent McCool sped up on the inside, Mucho Gusto relaxed in third as he traveled into the first turn.

The stalking tactics worked perfectly, as Mucho Gusto advanced late in the backstretch run of the 1 1/16-mile test, moved to the front in the final turn, and dominated the stretch run to win by 4 3/4 lengths.

“Every race he’s getting better and better,” Talamo said of the colt who won the Bob Hope Stakes (G3) in November at Del Mar and finished second to Bob Baffert-trained stablemate Improbable in the Dec. 8 Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity (G1). “I’m glad I’ve been working him because he’s worked better, too. He settled today like he’s been doing this a hundred times.”

Without any challenge late, Mucho Gusto finished the distance in 1:41.81 over a sloppy (sealed) track.

“He got to sit off the pace, which is good,” Baffert said. “They have to learn to do that, and I was really happy with Joe. He rode him with a lot of confidence today, like he was a good horse, and he was on his own. I didn’t give him any instructions.

“He said, ‘What should I do?’ I said, ‘You need to win this race. That’s what you need to do.'”

Magnificent McCool had a head in front of Kid Cantina through an opening quarter in :23.67, but the race was marred when Kid Cantina broke down early in the backstretch. The California-bred Richard’s Kid  gelding, who came into the race off a second in a Santa Anita starter allowance, was euthanized after the race, according to the California Horse Racing Board stewards at Santa Anita.

Without the pace pressure from Kid Cantina, Magnificent McCool opened a 2 1/2-length lead through a half in :46.55, but when he hit six furlongs in 1:10.51, Mucho Gusto was only a head behind. Last-out Sham Stakes (G3) winner Gunmetal Gray, who was last early, closed to pick up second, a half-length ahead of Easy ShotNolo Contestowas scratched before the race by trainer John Sadler, who said he made the decision because of the off track.

“He ran OK,” said Gunmetal Gray’s jockey, Mike Smith. “He was climbing a lot. He had a lot to (overcome).”

Bred in Kentucky by Teneri Farm and Bernardo Alvarez Calderon out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Itsagiantcauseway, Mucho Gusto was a $625,000 purchase by Petersen from Kirkwood Stables’ consignment to the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. He now has three wins and $234,000 in earnings from his four starts. Baffert said earlier in the week the colt could ship out of state for his next prep race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

“I texted Bob to see if I should come for the race, and he was very confident,” Petersen said after the race. “That’s pretty good.