Mucho Gusto Ready For Big Performance In Pegasus World Cup
Late Addition May Prove A Formidable Foe
By Kaeli Bartholomew
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was so confident with how Mucho Gusto was training that he decided he Mucho Macho Man colt would be a fierce contender in Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
He should know, he trained the race’s inaugural winner, Arrogate, in 2017.
Though Mucho Gusto is not the star of Baffert’s barn, Michael Lund Petersen’s colt has always been a very consistent horse. The 4-year old crept into the spotlight for the first time when he won the Bob Hope Stakes (GIII) at Del Mar in just his second career start as a 2-year-old and since then he’s ensured himself a permanent spot in the minds of horse racing fans by continuously putting in good performances.
In addition to winning last year’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes (GII), Laz Barrera Stakes (GIII) and Affirmed Stakes (GII), he finished second to Improbable in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) and was third in the Sunland Park Derby (GIII). He was also second to Horse of the Year finalist and disqualified Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Maximum Security in the Haskell Invitational Stakes (GIII) at Monmouth Park. And though Mucho Gusto finished second that day in New Jersey, he really made the winner work hard and was many lengths ahead of the third-place finisher, Spun to Run.
Mucho Gusto put in another strong performance in the Travers Stakes to finished third to the fast-closing Code of Honor and ended 2019 with an off-form performance to finish fourth in the Oklahoma Derby (GIII). Though he didn’t lose by much, he seemed to take a few steps back rather than improving off of his two strong performances in grade 1 races.
He hasn’t raced since, but he has been turning in outstanding workouts at his home base of Santa Anita. In fact, in his last four workouts he has ranked fastest of all other horses working that distance. His last work of six furlongs in 1:11.60 from the gate is what cemented Baffert’s decision to run him in the Pegasus World Cup.
Eclipse Award-winner Irad Ortiz Jr., who has never been aboard the son of Mucho Macho Man, had so much confidence in Baffert’s late addition he made a last-minute choice to switch mounts, taking off from Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Spun to Run.
So with Ortiz in the irons and some awesome workouts in the bag, Mucho Gusto might be a fierce competitor for favored Omaha Beach. In fact,Mucho Gusto has already beaten Spun to Run, who in turn beat Omaha Beach in the Breeders’ Cup.
The Pegasus World Cup is shaping up to be a race full of chances at both revenge and redemption for several runners. Mucho Gusto will certainly be looking for his and if he really has improved from his last few efforts as his workouts suggest, this could be the race of his lifetime.
Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man—Itsagiantcauseway, by Giant’s Causeway) was bred by Tenari Farm Inc. & Bernardo Alvarez Calderon.
He is owned by Michael Lund Peterson and trained by Bob Baffert.
He has a record of 10-5-2-2, $779,800.