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


PURE PRAISE adds win #3

Kirkwood consigned and sold PURE PRAISE at the 2017 OBS March Sale for $110,000. Today the 4-year-old Congrats filly added her third win – this time going a mile on the turf at Tampa. She ran ar first off the pace, then swung wide and rallied to win by a head. She is owned by Lambholm Stable  and trained by Roy S. Lerman.

BELLERIN scores at Santa Anita for win #2

Kirkwood has many happy associations with the family of BELLERIN (Malibu Moon – Seek to Soar, by Seeking the Gold) through his grand dam Soaring Softly.
Yesterday going a mile on the dirt at Santa Anita, BELLERIN showed early speed and was leading by the first quarter – he and stayed there to score his second win. The gelding was sold by  Kirkwood for $60,000 to trainer Carla Gaines for her client, owner Keith Brackpool.

CHESS CHIEF graduates at the Fair Grounds

CHESS CHIEF ( Into Mischief) did not care for his first starts sprinting but relished two turns. Racing 1 1/16 at the Fair Grounds, he split horses in midstretch, overtook the leader and held off a late-surging closer to win by 1/2 a length.
Lifetime Record: 5-1-0-1, $33,590.
O-James Coleman, Jr.
B-Morgan’s Ford Farm (VA)
T-Dallas Stewart.

HIT IT ONCE MORE 2nd in the Bernardini at Aqueduct

HIT IT ONCE MORE ( Hard Spun) jumped right to the lead in the 1 5/16th mile Bernardini S at Aqueduct. He held on tenaciously, but could not hold off a closer in deep stretch and had to settle for 2nd.   Last year he had no trouble at all wiring the field to win the  Genesee Valley Breeders’ Stakes at Finger Lakes.   The six-year-old horse has 3 prior stakes wins under his belt, the NY Derby, the Albany Stakes and the Haynesfied Stakes. He is owned by Yellow Moon Stables LLC and trained by Gary Sciacca. He has an enviable record of  36 -7-3-5, $585,997 HIT IT ONCE MORE got his early start with Kirkwood and was sold at Timonium as a 2-year-old in training for $90,000.