Rain, sun, turf, dirt or Tapeta…4-year-old gelding Mugaritz can do it all. The son of Dialed In went off as the 6-5 post time favorite in Saturday's feature, the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap on a rainy afternoon at Golden Gate Fields, and proceeded to beat 9 other rivals in an eye-catching effort.
Mugaritz, ridden to victory by Ricky Gonzalez, stalked the pace early before finding a path to race in upper stretch. Displaying a nice turn of foot down the lane, Mugaritz kicked away from his competition at the eighth pole and hit the wire a comfortable 3 and a half lengths clear of second place finisher Ohio. 24-1 longshot Brave Nation rallied from off the pace to snatch third from Grecian Fire while 4-time Grade 2 winner Ashleyluvssugar completed the top five placings.
“Boy, he ran really good today,” said winning jockey Gonzalez. “He really showed a nice burst of speed in the final sixteenth. This is a nice horse here-he just keeps getting better and better-and I'm lucky to be riding him.”
Mugaritz has won 5 races from 5 starts in 2019 for leading Golden Gate trainer Jonathan Wong and owner Alejandro Mercado, who exclaimed Mugaritz “is the best horse he has ever owned” in a post-race interview. Mugaritz sports 8 wins from 13 career starts, with 1 other second place finish and career earnings of $227,125.
“He's doing really well right now,” said Daniel Villalobos, assistant trainer to Jonathan Wong. “When he was in traffic [on the far turn] waiting for some room to run, I was not worried. I was waiting for him to show the kick that he always does…and he showed it once he got the chance.”
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