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 Park, Cutting 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
- 3 yo
- 5:30 PM (local)
|1||1Mucho Gusto (KY)||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)||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)||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)||Kent J. Desormeaux||122||J. Keith Desormeaux||15/1|
|10||10Eye Cloud (KY)||Isaias D. Enriquez||122||Tracy A. Norris||30/1|