02.04.2019

Awesome Again's Always Shopping On Oaks Trail With Busanda S. Victory

Repole Stable homebred Always Shopping, under a perfect trip engineered by meet-leading rider......

Repole Stable homebred Always Shopping, under a perfect trip engineered by meet-leading rider Manny Franco, broke her maiden in the $100,000 Busanda Feb. 3 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, the bay daughter of Awesome Again, out of the stakes-winning More Than Ready mare Stopshoppingmaria, got the better of rivals Filly Joel and Miss Marilyn, who had kept her a maiden in her last two starts, to score a 1 1/4-length victory as the 2-1 post-time favorite.



With the win in the 1 1/8-mile test for sophomore fillies, Always Shopping picked up 10 points toward a berth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), slated for May 3 at Churchill Downs. The Busanda was the second race in the Oaks qualifying series at the Big A, following the grade 2 Demoiselle, held Dec. 1, which was won by Positive Spirit.

Filly Joel, with Jose Lezcano in the irons, emerged from a sextet of frontrunning contenders to mark the opening quarter-mile in :23.91, as Miss Marilyn was hung wide through the opening turn.

Always Shopping broke from the inside post, saved ground along the rail from fifth position, and was content to track the leaders through a half-mile in :48.52. Filly Joel continued to dictate terms under close watch from Getting Warmer and Miss Marilyn on the main track labeled fast.

Filly Joel maintained her lead through the final turn, as Franco urged Always Shopping off the rail and began to reel in the leader with every stride. Always Shopping swooped by a determined Filly Joel and secured the win in a final time of 1:52.24.

"We were cautiously optimistic about this spot. We were always looking to stretch her out and get her to race at two turns. She hadn't broke her maiden yet, but she had run well in her last start," said assistant trainer Byron Hughes. "Manny did a great job saving ground and tilted her out down the stretch. At this point we'll see how she comes out of this race and go from there."

Franco, who leads the meet with 51 wins, said the nine-furlong distance suited his filly.

"The distance helped her a lot. Last time (when she was runner-up to Miss Marilyn Dec. 14 at Aqueduct) she went a mile and the speed held up. I liked the distance today for her," Franco said. "The trip worked out great. I just wanted to make sure she came out of there well and get my position before the turn, and that's what she did. After that, she did it nice."

- edited from www.bloodhorse.com

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02.03.2019

Mucho Macho Man's Mucho Gusto Romps in Robert B. Lewis S. (G3)

At first, Joe Talamo's move aboard Mucho Gusto in the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at......

At first, Joe Talamo's move aboard Mucho Gusto in the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park seemed puzzling.

The apparent clear pacesetter on paper in a field of five, Michael Lund Petersen's 3-year-old Mucho Macho Man colt got out of the gate best, but when Kid Cantina and Magnificent McCool sped up on the inside, Mucho Gusto relaxed in third as he traveled into the first turn.

The stalking tactics worked perfectly, as Mucho Gusto advanced late in the backstretch run of the 1 1/16-mile test, moved to the front in the final turn, and dominated the stretch run to win by 4 3/4 lengths.



"Every race he's getting better and better," Talamo said of the colt who won the Bob Hope Stakes (G3) in November at Del Mar and finished second to Bob Baffert-trained stablemate Improbable in the Dec. 8 Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity (G1). "I'm glad I've been working him because he's worked better, too. He settled today like he's been doing this a hundred times."

Without any challenge late, Mucho Gusto finished the distance in 1:41.81 over a sloppy (sealed) track.

"He got to sit off the pace, which is good," Baffert said. "They have to learn to do that, and I was really happy with Joe. He rode him with a lot of confidence today, like he was a good horse, and he was on his own. I didn't give him any instructions.

"He said, 'What should I do?' I said, 'You need to win this race. That's what you need to do.'"

Magnificent McCool had a head in front of Kid Cantina through an opening quarter in :23.67 and opened a 2 1/2-length lead through a half in :46.55. But when he hit six furlongs in 1:10.51, Mucho Gusto was only a head behind. Last-out Sham Stakes (G3) winner Gunmetal Gray, who was last early, closed to pick up second, a half-length ahead of Easy Shot. Nolo Contesto was scratched before the race by trainer John Sadler, who said he made the decision because of the off track.

Bred in Kentucky by Teneri Farm and Bernardo Alvarez Calderon out of the Giant's Causeway mare Itsagiantcauseway, Mucho Gusto was a $625,000 purchase by Petersen from Kirkwood Stables' consignment to the 2018 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale. He now has three wins and $234,000 in earnings from his four starts. Baffert said earlier in the week the colt could ship out of state for his next prep race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

"I texted Bob to see if I should come for the race, and he was very confident," Petersen said after the race. "That's pretty good."

- edited from www.bloodhorse.com

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