Mucho Gusto on Schedule for Sunland Derby

Courtesy of the BloodHorse Mucho Gusto wins the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park
Mucho Gusto wins the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park


Mucho Gusto on Schedule for Sunland Derby

Also shipping from California is El Camino Real Derby winner Anothertwistafate.

Last seen drawing off in the stretch to a 4 3/4 length victory in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) Feb. 2 at Santa Anita Park, Michael Lund Petersen’s Mucho Gusto appears to be on schedule for his racing return March 24 in the $800,000 Sunland Park Derby (G3) at Sunland Park.

While missed racing and training days at Santa Anita to address equine safety make his Robert B. Lewis score seem like a long time ago, Mucho Gusto has dutifully delivered five quailty workouts at the Arcadia, Calif. track since winning the 1 1/16-mile event. The colt earned a  bullet Feb. 28 among 20 workers at a half-mile and followed that effort with a pair of five-furlong moves before going six furlongs March 18 in 1:13 3/5.

While Mucho Gusto appears to be in his comfort zone, shipping to Sunland is most assuredly in the comfort zone of trainer Bob Baffert. The Hall of Fame conditioner has won 14 stakes in 40 starts at Sunland, including Sunland Derby wins in 2014 with Chitu  and 2013 with Governor Charlie.

As a son of Mucho Macho Man —Itsagiantcauseway, by Giant’s Causeway, trying his longest distance to date in the 1 1/8-mile Sunland Derby does not figure to be a problem for the two-time grade 3 winner. Last year Mucho Gusto won the seven-furlong Bob Hope Stakes (G3) and finished second to stablemate Improbable in the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity (G1), which, like the Robert B. Lewis, is contested at 1 1/16 miles.

The 8-5 morning-line favorite, regular rider Joe Talamo will make the trip to New Mexico to ride Mucho Gusto and the pair will break from the rail.

Sunday’s race is a Road to the Kentucky Derby series race, awarding Derby qualifying points to the top four finishers on a scale of 50-20-10-5.

Starting in post 2 is second-choice Anothertwistafate, who has rolled to three straight victories on the all-weather surface at Golden Gate Fields. The son of Scat Daddy capped that stretch with a seven-length score in the El Camino Real Derby, securing 10 Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying points in the process.

Juan Hernandez, who has been on board for each of Anothertwistafate’s four starts, will make the trip to Sunland. Anothertwistafate will return to dirt for the first time since finishing ninth in his career debut in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.

New Mexico-bred Hustle Up, a veteran of 10 career starts, won the Feb. 24 Mine That Bird Derby—the local prep for the Sunland Derby. In the 1 1/16-mile race, the son of Abstraction scored a frontrunning win, opening up three lengths in the stretch on his way to a clear victory.

Trainer Steve Asmussen sends out the runner-up from the Mine That Bird in Wicked Indeed, a Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred son of Tapit . The race’s third-place finisher, Walker Stalker, will try to improve off that effort for trainer Jose Gonzalez.

After an off-the-board finish in his stakes debut in the Southwest Stakes (G3) last month at Oaklawn ParkCutting Humor will look to return to the form that saw the son of First Samurai  win or place in each of his first four starts. Owned by Starlight Racing, the dark bay colt is trained by Todd Pletcher.


Sunland Park, Sunday, March 24, 2019, Race 11

  • Grade III
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $800,000
  • 3 yo
  • 5:30 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 1Mucho Gusto (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Joseph Talamo 122 Bob Baffert 8/5
2 2Anothertwistafate (KY) Juan J. Hernandez 122 Blaine D. Wright 3/1
3 3Hustle Up (NM) Shane Laviolette 122 Todd W. Fincher 5/1
4 4Wicked Indeed (KY) Luis Contreras 122 Steven M. Asmussen 6/1
5 5Cutting Humor (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate John R. Velazquez 122 Todd A. Pletcher 8/1
6 6Walker Stalker (NM) Alejandro Medellin 122 Jose R. Gonzalez, Jr. 15/1
7 7Pasamonte Man (NY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Ken S. Tohill 122 Joel H. Marr 20/1
8 8Collusionist (CO) Alfredo J. Juarez, Jr. 122 O. A. Martinez, Jr. 25/1
9 9Diamond Blitz (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Kent J. Desormeaux 122 J. Keith Desormeaux 15/1
10 10Eye Cloud (KY) Isaias D. Enriquez 122 Tracy A. Norris 30/1


More gallopers at Gulfstream for Kirkwood

More gallopers at Gulfstream for Kirkwood

Emily Shields
Multiple graded stakes-placed Splashy Kisses was part of the inaugural “Gulfstream Gallop” consignment.

Last year, consignor Kip Elser of Kirkwood Stables and an unnamed client took the unorthodox route of galloping their offerings, rather than sending them through a timed breeze, at the under-tack preview show for the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale of 2-year-olds in training. The experiment proved a moderate success – and not only are Elser and his client back for more this season, the scope of the project has expanded.

Elser and his original client, under the consignment name of Kirkwood Stables, agent for Gulfstream Gallop LLC, have four juveniles consigned to this year’s Gulfstream sale. Meanwhile, another group of clients, under the banner of Kirkwood Stables, agent for Midway Gallop LLC, will offer four juveniles. The eight youngsters, who will open gallop during the pre-sale under-tack show on Monday, March 25, on Gulfstream’s oval two days prior to sale time, are all by different stallions, including first-crop sires Bayern, Tonalist, and Wicked Strong. The Midway Gallop group includes a Ghostzapper colt who is a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Time and Motion, from a deep Darby Dan Farm family.

Last year, Elser sent five horses through the ring at Gulfstream as Kirkwood Stables, agent for Gulfstream Gallop LLC. Three of those sold, led by a $120,000 Noble Mission colt to Caves Farm and a $100,000 Blame filly to Dennis O’Neill. The Blame filly, now named Splashy Kisses, is multiple graded stakes placed, further flying the banner for the program.

So, Who’s the Leading First-Crop Sire of 2019: Competitive Edge

So, Who’s the Leading First-Crop Sire of 2019: Competitive Edge

Courtesy of the TDN

Competitive Edge

It’s always among the key questions on everyone’s mind as 2-year-olds begin racing when Keeneland opens in April and the first-year sires have their first chance to show off their progeny. In this ongoing series, we have sought the opinion of several top judges as to who will be on top of the podium when 2019 is in the books.

Kip Elser, Kirkwood Stables


“I’m hearing a lot of talk about Competitive Edge. People have been talking about him and they’re getting the message out. I have two by Competitive Edge that I really like. They’re good, well-balanced, good-minded horses that are doing everything right.

“For me, the sleeper in this group is Bayern. My Bayern, I like him a lot. If the rest of them are anything like this horse he’s going to be a hell of a sire. I’ll be selling him at Gulfstream. You might not turn the page in your catalogue beforehand to come see him, but they’re going to turn their heads and say, ‘Who’s that?’ That’s why you go to 2 year-old sales. There’s a lot of people that may not have the page turned on a horse when they get there, but there will be horses they’ll see on the racetrack or at the barn and say, ‘Wow, who’s that?’ This is that kind of horse.

“I also have a Tonalist colt that is right there with the Bayern colt. He is big, with a long stride and a good attitude, all the things people look for. It’s a cliche, but those are the things people want and everyone is looking for the same thing.

“The Tonalist will also sell at Gulfstream and they will be in the Gulfstream Gallop group. That is a whole different deal in itself, but I think they will be well received.”



Courtesy of the BloodHorse

Kip Elser of Kirkwood Stables
Kip Elser of Kirkwood Stables

Anne M. Eberhardt

Elser’s Gulfstream Gallop Experiment Continues

Kirkwood Stables’ horses gallop rather than breeze at 2-year-old sales

At last year’s edition of The Gulfstream Sale, Fasig-Tipton’s 2-year-olds in training sale in Florida, Kip Elser took an unconventional route in showcasing his Kirkwood Stables’ five-horse consignment to potential buyers by galloping them in the presale under tack show, rather than putting the youngsters through rigorous timed workouts.

Buyers liked the concept, as three of the five offered sold for $285,000 while in the ring at Gulfstream Park. Another sold privately post-sale for $55,000, and the fifth changed hands at a later sale for $30,000, bringing the total grossed by the group to $370,000.

That was a healthy return on the initial purchase price of $154,000 for the five horses bought under the name Gulfstream Gallop specifically for the purpose of being offered at The Gulfstream Sale without breezing.

Elser, a veteran horseman based in Camden, S.C., undertook the Gulfstream Gallop experiment after he became reacquainted with a friend from the horse industry while attending the races at Saratoga Race Course. The unnamed friend discussed the idea of buying yearlings and offering them for sale as 2-year-olds without the benefit of a presale breeze, and the two embarked on the venture that not only produced a healthy profit but also has had early success with its graduates on the track.

“It was his idea when we met at Saratoga, and he called me couple of days later and said, ‘Let’s do it,'” Esler said. “I couldn’t have done it without him. It was his idea, and he had the bravery to go ahead and give it a try.”

Based on last year’s success, Elser is returning to this year’s Gulfstream sale with a nine-strong consignment that will follow the same unorthodox presale exercise regimen undertaken last year. This year’s Kirkwood group includes four horses selling for a new partnership that also bought yearlings specifically to be sold at Gulfstream after they only gallop during the under tack show.

“I had a few other people approach me, and I asked (the original investor) if he wanted partners, and he said he’d rather do it himself and that I should put together another partnership for them,” Elser explained.

Elser said most of the individuals in the second partnership are also experienced horse people, and the four yearlings bought for their pinhooking purposes were acquired under the name Midway Gallop, a modified version of the original Gulfstream Gallop banner.

Four of Kirkwood’s five Gulfstream Gallop juveniles have won or placed on the track, with the fifth recently returning to training. The most successful of the group is Splashy Kisses, a daughter of Blame  who ran second in the Pocahontas Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs and third in the Sweet Life Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park for owners ERJ Racing, Phoenix Thoroughbreds, and Dave Kenney and trainer Doug O’Neill.

Like four of the five Gulfstream Gallop entries last year, Splashy Kisses was bought out of the one-and-done 2017 Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Yearling Sale for horses predisposed to grass racing through genetics or conformation. Kirkwood and Gulfstream Gallop paid $30,000 for the bay filly, and she was later bought by Dennis O’Neill, her trainer’s brother, and ERJ Racing for $100,000 at the Gulfstream auction.

Included in the group to be offered in this year’s Gulfstream sale by Kirkwood, agent for Midway Gallop, is a Ghostzapper  half brother to grade 1 winner Time and Motion that went unsold on a final bid of $170,000 when offered by Darby Dan Farm at last year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Produced from the stakes-winning Kris S. mare Ellie’s Moment, the colt consigned as Hip 26 descends from deep Darby Dan blood. His second dam is the stakes-placed Graustark mare Kelley’s Day, the dam of dual grade 1 winner and sire Brian’s Time.

The other Midway Gallop entrants are a Flatter Deb’s Charm colt (Hip 18), a Wicked Strong Encore Belle colt (Hip 30), and a Tonalist Naples Dream colt (Hip 89).

On behalf of Gulfstream Gallop, Elser has entered an English Channel Expressive Story colt (Hip 33), a Bayern Jooma colt (Hip 63), a Munnings Ubusuku colt (Hip 160), and a Street Sense Andinafilly (Hip 180).

Kirkwood Stables has one other horse in the sale, a More Than Ready My Lady Lauren colt (Hip 86).

Considering the success of last year’s Gulfstream Gallop, Elser’s program should no longer be considered an experiment but a legitimate market niche.

“We’re hearing positive things about the other horses from last year, and 11 months later people still think they have a shot to get their money’s worth,” Elser said. “Now we are expanding somewhat. We have no illusions we are going to become a major part of the market, but I think there is a niche.”