Bob Baffert will have a horse in the $1.25 million Runhappy Travers, after all.
The Hall of Fame trainer said Monday that Mucho Gusto, runner-up in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 20, will run in the Travers on Saturday at Saratoga.
“He came out of the Haskell really well, and he breezed this morning [at Del Mar], and went really well, really strong,” said Baffert. “When they work like that, I like to run them the next week.”
Owned by Michael Lund Petersen, Mucho Gusto worked five furlongs in 59.20 seconds, the fastest of 39 workers at the distance. Baffert said Mucho Gusto will be shipped on Tuesday, and that his assistant Jimmy Barnes will be at the race.
The 3-year-old son of Mucho Macho Man will be ridden by Joe Talamo.
Mucho Gusto won a pair of Grade 3 events at Santa Anita Park, the Laz Barerra and the Affirmed in his two previous starts before the Haskell, where he finished 1 ¼ lengths behind the winner, Maximum Security. He's hit the board in all eight career races, including three wins, a second and a third in 2019. The chestnut colt has career earnings of $630,800.
“With that work, he punched his own ticket to the Travers,” said Baffert. “We think he's ready to do something big.”
Late last week, Baffert withdrew 2018 Eclipse Award champion 2-year-old Game Winner from Travers consideration after the colt came down with a virus.
Mucho Gusto will be the 10th Travers starter for Baffert, who has previously won the “Mid-Summer Derby” with Point Given in 2001, Arrogate in 2016 and West Coast in 2017. His 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah finished second to Keen Ice.
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