Mucho Gusto, the winner of the 2020 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (Grade 1), has been retired from racing after suffering a soft tissue injury training toward a defense of his title.
Trainer Bob Baffert said the 5-year-old son of Mucho Macho Man came up with the injury Tuesday morning. News of the retirement was first reported by Thoroughbred Daily News.
“He galloped this morning, and afterwards we noticed some heat in the pastern,” said Baffert. “Ultrasound showed a small issue in the ligament in the pastern area. With soft tissue problems like this it takes months of rest and you don’t know if they’re going to be the same when they come back. The good thing is we caught it early.”
Mucho Gusto retires with six wins in 13 starts for earnings of $3,953,800. After winning on debut at Los Alamitos’ Thoroughbred meet, the horse won the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes, then finished second to Improbable in the G1 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity to finish his juvenile season.
He started his 3-year-old campaign on a winning note in the G3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, then ran third in the G3 Sunland Park Derby. Mucho Gusto skipped the Triple Crown races, instead going on to win the G3 Lazaro Barrera Stakes and G3 Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita before shipping east to finish second in the G1 Haskell Invitational Stakes to Maximum Security and third to Code of Honor in the G1 Travers Stakes. His season finished with a victory in the G3 Oklahoma Derby.
Mucho Gusto spent his first two seasons racing for owner Michael Lund Petersen, who purchased him for $625,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Sale of 2-year-olds in training. Petersen sold the horse privately to Saudi Prince Faisal Bin Khaled following his Oklahoma Derby score.
Mucho Gusto kicked off his 4-year-old campaign with a 4 1/2-length triumph in the Pegasus World Cup, then tested the Saudi Cup, where he finished fourth. After a 10-month layoff, Mucho Gusto made his final career start in the G2 San Antonio Stakes, where he once again finished fourth.
“I gave him all that time off to have him fresh for these races (the Pegasus and Saudi Cup),” said Baffert. “He really likes that track (Gulfstream). He ran huge in the Haskell, but his biggest race was the Pegasus. And I thought for a second he was going to win the Saudi Cup. He’s sort of been the barn favorite.”
Bred in Kentucky by Teneri Farm Inc. and Bernardo Alvarez Calderon, Mucho Gusto is out of the winning Giant’s Causeway mare Itsagiantcauseway.
Stud plans for Mucho Gusto are still to be determined.