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.”