MUCHO GUSTO takes the G3 LAZARO BARRERA S at Santa Anita with ease

Courtesy of the TDN

Trainer Bob Baffert was out of luck Saturday in Maryland, but “TDN Rising Star” Mucho Gusto provided at least some measure of consolation when proving too strong for five other rivals in the G3┬áLaz Barrera S. The prohibitive favorite hit the ground running from the inside gate and raced inside in a line of three vying for the early lead, but Joe Talamo took a quick look to his right and asked Mucho Gusto for a bit of acceleration to give themselves a bit of breathing room for the run up the backstretch. Settled nicely in the middle stages and held together into the final quarter-mile, Mucho Gusto repelled a challenge from Vantastic at the threesixteenths pole, responded to a couple of left-handed whips to pinch a break into the ultimate furlong and strode home a daylight winner.

Accorded “Rising Star” status after besting Vantastic by four lengths on Los Alamitos debut last September, he led throughout to take Del Mar’s G3┬áBob Hope S. Nov. 17 before finishing runner-up to fellow “Rising Star” Improbable (City Zip) in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity. The chestnut looked to be among Baffert’s top Classic hopes when running out a decisive winner of the G3 Robert B. Lewis S. in February, but he was beaten six lengths into third in the G3 Sunland Derby Mar. 24 and was forced to regroup.

Pedigree Notes: A $14,000 short yearling at Keeneland January in 2017, Mucho Gusto improved to be a $95,000 Keeneland September buy, but was bought back on a bid of just $55,000 at OBS March last spring. But the chestnut blossomed–to put it mildly–and was purchased by Michael Lund Petersen for $625,000 (consigned by Kirkwood) at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale after spectacularly breezing a quarter over a rain-affected strip in :21 1/5.