WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and Starlight Racing's Improbable stepped forward again in his third career start, remaining undefeated at odds of 1-9 in Saturday's Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity. The juvenile son of City Zip, ridden by Drayden Van Dyke to a five-length triumph, covered 1 1/16 miles over Los Alamitos' fast main track in 1:41.18. Improbable marked Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's fifth consecutive winner and 11th overall in the Futurity, following McKinzie (2017), Mastery (2016), Mor Spirit (2015), Dortmund (2014), Liason (2011), Lookin At Lucky (2009), Pioneerof the Nile (2008), Point Given (2000), Captain Steve (1999), and Real Quiet (1997).
The victory earns Improbable his first 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
“(Trainer) Bob (Baffert) has liked this horse all along,” said WinStar's Elliott Walden. “When Justify went to the farm from Del Mar this summer, Bob put Improbable in his stall. I loved his race today. The best thing about it was his last eighth of a mile and the way he galloped out. That gives you the hope for the future and that's what we're all looking for going towards the Spring classics.''
Improbable broke a bit slowly, and was second-last in the six-colt field crossing under the wire for the first time. His stablemate Mucho Gusto grabbed the lead from the outermost stall, setting fractions of :23.25 and :47.25 in the early going. Dueling made a sudden move in the clubhouse turn to dart toward the outside fence, uncovering Improbable and opening the door for the colt to drag Van Dyke within two lengths of the lead while three-wide down the backstretch.
“We were just behind the trouble on the first turn, and to be honest, we benefited because we ended up where wanted to be, three wide behind the leaders,” said Van Dyke. “This is just such a cool horse. He hit another gear when we got to the stretch.''
Van Dyke managed to get Improbable to wait all the way through the far turn, at which point he drew even with Mucho Gusto and Savagery. Savagery was the first to give way, and Mucho Gusto tried to hold on but was put away by his stablemate in the final eighth of a mile. Improbable cruised under the wire a five-length winner, while Mucho Gusto held second over Extra Hope in third.
“At the top of the stretch (Improbable) looked a little lost,” admitted Baffert. “(Jockey Drayden Van Dyke) had to hit him a couple of times. Once he straightened out, he got into that long, beautiful stride of his. The good horses always find a way to win. He had trained like he was going to run like this. I was really excited about (Mucho Gusto). He tried very hard and just got a little tired. His race was very encouraging. We'll just let these horses come along at their own pace and hope they stay healthy. That's the key. Improbable has a long stride like Justify. He's just a smaller version. I'm not saying he's at Justify's level yet, but he's a really good horse.''
Bred in Kentucky by St. George Farm and G. Watts Humphrey, Improbable was a $110,000 weanling at Keeneland November who was pinhooked through the September sale for a final bid of $200,000. The colt, out of a winning daughter of A.P. Indy, is undefeated in his three career starts for earnings of over $250,000.
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