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Mucho Macho Man's Mucho Gusto Takes Flight in G1 Pegasus World Cup Inv.


Several weeks ago, it looked like Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert wouldn't have a horse in the fourth running of the G1 Pegasus World Cup. When 4-year-old Mucho Gusto put in a particularly good work from the gate on Jan. 16 at Santa Anita, Baffert decided to send the colt over to Gulfstream to contest the race.

Scratched down to a field of 10 with the loss of probable favorite Omaha Beach and of Breeders' Cup winner Spun to Run, the $3 million Pegasus was billed as a wide-open betting affair.

Instead, His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Khalid's Mucho Gusto made it under the wire an easy winner, pulling away from Mr Freeze by 4 1/2 lengths. The son of Mucho Macho Man, sent to post as the second choice at odds of 3-1, gave jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. his third win on Saturday's card, running nine furlongs over the fast main track in 1:48.85.

“You know what, the horse shipped really well and I wasn't really planning on taking him there, but he worked really well the other day,” Baffert said by phone from California. “I was going to run in the San Pasqual next week but after he worked so well I thought, 'You know what, I'm just going to take a shot at the mile-and-an-eighth and maybe that will get him ready.' He didn't get an invite to the Saudi Cup, so I thought maybe if he runs well enough he'll get an invitation.

“...he looked great in the warm-up; Irad Ortiz did a pretty masterful job. He had me a little bit worried the way he was down inside like that, but he knew what he was doing. When he tilted out at the quarter pole, all I could say was 'Damn, I wish I would have flown down there!' But it was pretty exciting.”

Mucho Gusto was extremely quick out of the starting gate, making his way to the lead and the rail in the short run up to the clubhouse turn. Mr Freeze rushed up on his outside to demand the early lead, followed by Bodexpress and Higher Power, leaving Ortiz and Mucho Gusto to settle in a perfect stalking position in fourth.

Mr Freeze set fractions of :23.37 and :47.78 on the front end, with Ortiz saving ground at the rail on Mucho Gusto. Bodexpress was always tugging hard at the bridle, and he was the first to challenge Mr Freeze in the far turn.

When Ortiz tipped Mucho Gusto out to the three-path to make his run, it took the colt a few strides to increase his momentum. Meanwhile Mr Freeze had managed to pull away from Bodexpress, but Mucho Gusto got to rolling by the head of the lane and the race was over.

“I had a great trip,” said Ortiz, just crowned with the Eclipse Award for leading jockey in 2019. “He got a great start and felt good. He relaxed so well and we were able to save ground. At the three-eighths pole I tipped him out and he took off. He was much the best. I think he just took off and opened up easy. He's a nice horse.”

Cruising under the wire an easy Winner, Mucho Gusto defeated Mr Freeze by 4 1/2 lengths. War Story closed from the rear of the field to finish third, while Diamond Oops checked in fourth.

The remaining order of finish was: Bodexpress, Tenfold, Seeking the Soul, True Timber, Tax, and Higher Power.

Bred in Kentucky by Teneri Farm Inc. and Bernardo Alvarez Calderon, Mucho Gusto is out of the winning Giant's Causeway mare Itsagiantcauseway. A sales veteran, Mucho Gusto went under the hammer four times in his formative years, eventually bringing $625,000 from Michael Lund Petersen at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-old in training sale.

The colt broke his maiden on debut, then won the G3 Bob Hope in just his second career start. He closed out his juvenile season with a second-place finish in the G1 Los Al Futurity, and started out his 3-year-old campaign with a win in the G3 Robert Lewis. After finishing third in the Sunland Derby, he returned to Santa Anita to win both the G3 Laz Barrera and G3 Affirmed before striking out east to run in the G1 Haskell.

Second behind Maximum Security in the Haskell and third in the Travers, Mucho Gusto's last start of 2019 came in the form of a fourth-place finish in September's G3 Oklahoma Derby. The layoff appeared to work in his favor as Mucho Gusto dominated the Pegasus, improving his overall record to 6-2-2 from 11 starts for earnings of over $2.5 million.

“The way he broke, I told Irad to warm him up well so that he would get away from there, and he did,” Baffert continued. “He could have won from the 12-hole. He just showed up. We've always wanted to see him run a race like that, but he got beat by Maximum Security, he's been chasing some really good horses.”

-edited from www.paulickreport.com

Ghostzapper Filly Named 'TDN Rising Star' on Debut


The Ghostzapper debutante Charming Lady spotted her rivals two to three lengths with a slow break and then a left-hand turn, but she easily made up for the miscue and ran away from them late en route to ‘TDN Rising Star’ honors Saturday afternoon at the Fair Grounds.

Pounded into 7-10 favoritism off a very imposing worktab, the $185,000 Fasig-Tipton October Yearling turned $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic breezer (:10 2/5) quickly recovered to race on the heels of a leading trio while traveling nicely beneath James Graham.

Watch Charming Lady debut victory

In need only of somewhere to go once heads were turned for home, the dark bay pushed away from the inside and into the four path in upper stretch and careered away late to score by 3 1/4 lengths. Fellow first-time starter True Friend raced prominently and held for second.

Charming Lady is the third winner from as many to the races for her dam, winner of the 2013 Miss Preakness S. I’m Mom’s Favorite is a half-sister to SP Charm City Girl (Pioneerof the Nile) and to GSP Toutsie Rules (Roman Ruler). Charming Lady’s third dam was Stonerside Stable’s outstanding turf distaffer and MGISW Tout Charmant (Slewvescent). 

Ghostzapper was also represented by a pair of blacktype runners on the day - Stave, 3rd in the Marie G. Krantz Memorial over the Fair Grounds lawn and Enchanted Ghost, 3rd in the Geisha S. at Laurel.

-edited from www.thoroughbreddailynews.com

Ghostzapper's Happy Farm a Brave Fall Highweight (G3) Winner


M and A Racing's Happy Farm, with Jorge Vargas, Jr. up for trainer Jason Servis, held off a late charge from Wonderful Light to capture Sunday's rescheduled Grade 3, $200,000 Fall Highweight by three-quarters-of-a-length in the final stakes event of the Aqueduct Racetrack fall meet.

A 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper, Happy Farm, made his stakes debut in the six furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and upwards. He broke alertly from the outside post in a field of six and stalked the early foot of Strike Power through an opening quarter-mile in 22.55 seconds.


Strike Power, who captured the Grade 3 Swale last year at Gulfstream Park, toiled through a pressured lead as Happy Farm took control through a half-mile in 45.96 with Seethisquick looming outside rivals in third.


Recruiting Ready, winner of the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint in March, was sent to post as the 1-2 mutuel favorite. The 9-time winner, with Tyler Gaffalione up, was nestled in fourth position behind rivals through the turn in need of racing room.

Happy Farm maintained command as the field straightened away with Recruiting Ready and Wonderful Light launching outside bids, while Strike Power gave way along the rail. Wonderful Light, with Joel Rosario up, surged with intent in the final 70 yards, but could not reel in a determined Happy Farm, who completed six furlongs in 1:11.91 on the fast main track.

“My horse broke quick and the assistant [Henry Argueta, assistant to Servis] told me he was going to be sharp,” said Vargas, Jr. “I just tried to relax him. By the turn, he was going quick, but he was relaxed. I smooched at him a little bit and he jumped on it right away. When they came to me, I had something to fight back with.”

Rosario said Wonderful Light was valiant in defeat, completing the exacta a half-length the better of Recruiting Ready.

“I thought I was going to get there for a little while, but he gave a good effort,” said Rosario.

Bred in Florida by Rustlewood Farm, Happy Farm now has earnings of $398,888. He is Ghostzappers' 12th blacktype winner of 2019 and his 6th Graded winner. Ghostzapper is the sire of at least 10 blacktype winners for seven straight years. 

- edited from www.paulickreport.com



Ghostzapper's Lift Up Rockets to First Graded Win in Maple Leaf S. (G3)


Rallying through the pack from last to first, Lift Up delivered on her pari-mutuel promise with a masterful ride from Patrick Husbands in the $125,000 Maple Leaf Stakes (G3) for trainer Michael Dickinson on Saturday at Woodbine Racetrack.

Owned and bred by Augustin Stables, Lift Up is a 5-year-old filly by Ghostzapper and earned her eighth career win from 19 starts and lifted her bankroll over the $400,000 mark.

Dickinson trainees Lift Up and Theodora B. (also by Ghostzapper) finished first and third in the 1-1/4-mile main track feature, with the Mark Casse-conditioned She’s the Berries picking up second-place honors.


Lift Up trailed the field of nine distaffers by four lengths out of the gate while Theodora B. crossed to command early and set fractions of :24.83, :50.20 and 1:14.83 before the other Casse trainee, Miss Mo Mentum, laid on the pressure and drew even with the front-runner on the final turn.

Theodora B. managed to shake off that challenger past the mile mark in 1:39.07, but the late-closers were coming.

She’s the Berries, fresh off a late September stakes win in the Classy ‘N Smart, angled outside off a ground-saving trip while early trailer Lift Up threaded rivals down the lane and drew 1-1/4 lengths clear to score in a final time of 2:04.23. She’s the Berries nosed out Theodora B. in a photo for place.

“Just looking in the Racing Form, there’s enough speed in there and she’s the type of filly that you’ve got to get shut off at the start,” said Husbands. “She shut off and I was just watching those guys the whole way. And when you’re coming, you’ve got to come. You’ve got to try to get through the crowd, you don’t want to go around. So, I saved all the ground and kept my eyes on the horses who were stopping in front and I just found my way through.”

Lift Up was a close runner-up in last year’s edition of the Maple Leaf with Husbands aboard and had capped off a summer stakes double in the Belle Mahone at Woodbine on September 8, defeating She’s the Berries by a neck.

Back on Woodbine’s Tapeta course, Lift Up was the public’s choice at 9-5, and Husbands’ pick of the two stablemates.

“Patrick rode Theodora last time,” said Dickinson, referring to Theodora’s third-place finish in the HBPA Stakes on Oct. 17 over Presque Isle Downs. “I gave him the choice and I said, ‘In the mornings at home, Theodora is way better than Lift Up… way better.’ So, I said, ‘Do you want to ride Theodora?’ ‘No,’ he said, ‘Lift Up, Lift Up and Lift Up.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re making a big mistake, you know, because Theodora is the best.’ But he rode her beautifully, didn’t he? He’s an artist.

“You’ve got so many good jockeys here at Woodbine,” continued the Tapeta inventor. “We like coming here because you have good tracks and you have good jockeys – a great jockey colony. The only problem is your trainers are pretty good and they’re tough to beat.”

Ghostzapper is the sire of 11 blacktype winners in 2019, the 7th straight year he's reached double figures in that category. Lift Up is his 39th career graded winner.

- edited from www.woodbine.com

Ghostzapper's Final Frontier Emerges as Breeders' Cup Contender In Belmont Turf Sprint Inv.


Making his first start since finishing second to Shekky Shebaz in the Lucky Coin this summer at Saratoga Race Course, Godolphin homebred Final Frontier turned the tables on his rival to capture the fourth running of the $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational on Saturday at Belmont Park.

The 4-year-old Ghostzapper colt boosted his career earnings to $240,010, picking up his second win of the year from four starts and first stakes win. He's a full brother to Godolphin's Grade 1 winner and Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint runner up Better Lucky.

 Breaking alertly from post 3 with Jose Lezcano aboard, Final Frontier stalked favorite Shekky Shebaz from third position as the favorite led the seven-horse field through swift fractions of 22.46 seconds for the opening quarter-mile with the half in 44.29 under pressure from Fully Vested.

At the quarter-pole, Final Frontier moved four-wide and quickly passed stablemate Fully Vested and engaged the leader at the sixteenth-pole before extending away from Shekky Shebaz to win by 1 ¾ lengths.

He completed the six-furlong distance in a final time of 1:07.39 over a firm Widener turf course.

 “He broke real good today,” said Lezcano. “He was right there. The two horses [Shekky Shebaz and Fully Vested] were going head to head, and I was sitting third outside of them. When I asked him, he gave me a really good race. He finished really well.”

Winning trainer Tom Albertrani said the Lucky Coin was a touch short for the improving Final Frontier last out.

“Five and a half [furlongs] is just a little too short because he [Final Frontier] has the stamina to go a little bit longer,” said Albertrani. “He showed that he can win at a mile in the past but since we shortened him up it's really made a different horse out of him. He's a much better sprinter.”

Albertrani said the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint in November at Santa Anita may be in the cards for Final Frontier depending on how he comes out of the race.

“It is a concern,” said Albertrani. “I thought about that, but it is the Breeders' Cup. Might have to take a shot in there.”

Final Frontier is Ghostzapper's 11th Northern Hemisphere blacktype winner of 2019 and his 74th lifetime (11% starters). He's the sire of double digit stakes winners in each of the past seven seasons.

Leading Canadian Sires Milwaukee Brew & Sligo Bay Retired


Adena Springs has announced the retirement of Grade 1 winners Milwaukee Brew and Sligo Bay who had previously stood at Adena Springs North in Ontario, Canada. Both have been relocated to Kentucky.

Adena Springs' Ken Wilkins said a combination of the sires' ages—Milwaukee Brew is 22 and Sligo Bay is 21—and a shrinking mare population made their retirements necessary.

"It was a combination of age and demand, with the market in Canada shrinking like it is here. It didn't make sense to keep going with them. They both have done enough," Wilkins said.

Milwaukee Brew, a son of Wild Again, capped his achievements on the track with consecutive victories in the 2002 and 2003 Santa Anita Handicap (G1). He retired with an 8-4-5 record out of 24 starts and earned $2,879,612.

As a stallion, Milwaukee Brew was a 2-time Champion Sire in Canada. He has sired 24 black-type winners, which include three graded stakes winners and five champions. His top runners include Canadian champion 3-year-old filly Milwaukee Appeal, who won the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser and was runner-up in the Canadian classic Prince of Wales Stakes; Canadian champion 3-year-old filly Ginger Brew, another Woodbine Oaks winner and runner-up in the 2008 Queen's Plate; and 2014 Prince of Wales winner and Panamanian champion Coltimus Prime , who is entering stud next year at Beau Valley Stable in Alberta. 

Sligo Bay, a son of Sadler's Wells, earned grade 1 status in the 2002 Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes (G1T). His performances in France, Ireland, and the U.S. produced a 4-6-2 record out of 17 starts and earnings of $484,695. 

As a stallion, Sligo Bay has sired 13 black-type winners, including six graded stakes winners and three champions. His best performer by far was four-time Canadian champion Lexie Lou, who swept the Queen's Plate, Woodbine Oaks, and Wonder Where Stakes and was runner-up to California Chrome  in the Hollywood Derby (G1T) on her way to capturing Canada's Horse of the Year, champion grass 3-year-old filly, and champion grass mare honors in 2014. Lexie Lou earned a Canadian champion grass mare title again in 2016.

Adena Spring also announced the retirement of 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic hero and leading sire Awesome Again.

- edited from www.bloodhorse.com 

Adena Springs Legend Awesome Again Retired From Stud Duty


Frank Stronach's homebred Canadian classic winner and sire of multiple champions, Awesome Again, has been retired from stud duty.

Retirement of the Kentucky farm's marquee sire coincides with two other stallion retirements: Grade 1 winners Milwaukee Brew  and Sligo Bay who had previously stood at Adena Springs' farm in Ontario. Milwaukee Brew and Sligo Bay have been relocated to Kentucky.

Among the three stallions, Awesome Again made the largest impact on Stronach's breeding and racing operation. The 25-year-old son of Deputy Minister has 18 crops to race that have earned more than $95.4 million in purses and include 66 black-type winners and 38 graded/group winners worldwide. He has sired three champions including the Stronach Stables homebreds Ghostzapper, the 2004 Horse of the Year and champion older horse and Ginger Punch, named the 2007 champion older mare after her victory in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.  His 14 grade 1 winners won a combined 32 grade 1 stakes, led by another Adena Springs-bred, Game On Dude, who captured eight graded stakes at the highest level and 14 graded stakes throughout his racing career.

Proving his longevity, Awesome Again was represented in the American classics this year by Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) winner Sir Winston.

On the track, Awesome Again got his first win at Hollywood Park in June of his 3-year-old year and in his next start won the Queen's Plate Stakes at Woodbine, becoming Stronach's second homebred winner of the Canadian classic. The colt was then sent back to the United States, where he won the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and was third in the Travers Stakes (G1). At 4, he strung together an undefeated season that produced five graded stakes victories, including one of the most memorable editions of the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) in 1998 at Churchill Downs. At the top of the stretch, Awesome Again and jockey Pat Day seemed beaten by a formidable trio in front of them: dual classic winner Silver Charm and dual grade 1 winners Coronado's Quest and Swain. Then in midstretch, the frontrunners spread apart and Awesome Again flew down the middle of the track to win by three-quarters of a length.

"I don't think you'll ever see as strong a field that he beat in 1998 in the Breeders' Cup Classic, with eight grade 1 winners and six of those multiple grade 1 winners," said Bill Drury, Adena Springs Kentucky's stallion manager. "He is still my signature horse and will continue to be treated like the champion he is. Any time people come by for shows, he is the first one we bring out, and they still marvel at his condition even though he is 25 years old."

As a sire, Awesome Again was not only a steady source of elite runners—he's sired four Breeders' Cup World Championship winners (all grade 1) with Ghostzapper (Classic), Ginger Punch and Round Pond (both in the Distaff), and Wilko (Juvenile)—but he's been a source of future stallions, too.

"People don't seem to develop mares like they used to, but we have certainly done that here with stallions," said Ken Wilkins, Adena Springs' stallion sales manager. "We've seen it with Ghostzapper, and, hopefully, we'll watch Shaman Ghost  (a son of Ghostzapper) become the next important stallion."

"He is a little grayer than he used to be, but he is still a draw," added Donald Wells, farm director at Adena Springs. "When people come to the farm, it is so great to bring him out, and then Ghostzapper and then Shaman Ghost because you see Awesome Again in both of them. This horse has been everything, really. He started the stallion barn and helped fill it up."

Awesome Again has made an equally big impact on the Thoroughbred breed as a broodmare sire. His daughters have produced 72 (5%) black-type winners to date, which include 22 graded stakes winners and eight champions. He is the broodmare sire of last year's Breeders' Cup Classic winner and Eclipse champion older dirt male Accelerate.

Among Awesome Again's final 20 foals, all born this year, is a filly Adena Springs bred out of its champion grass mare Perfect Sting, who won the 2000 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1T). 

"We are fortunate to get that filly out of two of our great champions," Wells said. "She is good-looking and a typical Awesome Again, fast-looking with a nice big hip and shoulder. We are excited to have her as part of our racing stable and then as an addition to the broodmare band, eventually."

Awesome Again will be represented by 27 broodmares cataloged in the upcoming Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. He also is the sire of four weanlings in the catalog. 

-edited from www.bloodhorse.com

Ghostzapper's Zestful Cleans Up In Los Al Special


A stretch to 1 ¼ miles proved no problem for Zestful as he dominated four opponents in the $100,000 Los Alamitos Special Sunday.

A 4-year-old Ghostzapper gelding changed hands at last year's Fasig-Tipton Horses of Racing Age auction. He's now won his sixth race in a row and for the seventh time in 10 appearances in 2019.

“He's so cool,'' said Talamo, who also won the inaugural Los Alamitos Special with the Bob Baffert-trained Dabster a year ago. “He'll do whatever you want. I kept him two or three paths off the rail and gave him a breather on the far turn. He just took off at the quarter pole.''

The victory was the second for the Zestful in the colors of the partnership that includes Danny Haramoto, Sheldon Kawahara, Steven Sobel and Mark Glatt.

The chestnut is Ghostzapper's third stakes winner out of a mare by Smoke Glacken from just 13 starters. Stronach Stables homebred champion Hunters Bay is among the others.

Able to make the early lead, Zestful surrendered the advantage when 11-1 shot Soul Beam made an inside move to take over, but, after being given a breather by jockey Joe Talamo, the 3-2 second choice Sunday kicked away in the stretch to score by six lengths.
The win was the ninth in 24 lifetime starts for Zestful and the $60,000 payday pushed his bankroll to $209,941.

-edited from www.paulickreport.com

Ghostzapper's Lift Up Earns 2nd Straight Stakes Trophy


Lift Up, finishing strongly under rider Patrick Husbands, was along in time to score by a neck over She’s the Berries as the 9-5 favorite in Sunday’s $100,000 Belle Mahone Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack.

Maryland-based trainer Michael Dickinson was on hand to send out Lift Up for the Belle Mahone, a 1 1/16 mile race for fillies and mares on the Tapeta which attracted a field of six.

Lift Up, a five-year-old Augustin Stable homebred by Ghostzapper, was recording her third career stakes win after taking the Miss Liberty over 1 1/16 miles of grass at Monmouth last June and the mile and 70 yard West Virginia President’s Cup on the Mountaineer Park turf course last time out.

“We think she’s going to be better going longer,” said Dickinson, who was sending out his second stakes winner of the meeting after watching Pamina win the Ontario Matron in July. “Now that we’ve got her to relax, she’ll go as long as we want. She’s bred to go a mile and a half.”

“I got a nice trip,” said Patrick Husbands, who was recording his meet-leading 12th stakes win and his third career score in the Belle Mahone following successes with Stars to Shine in 2011 and Uchenna in 2016.

“She was so relaxed, throughout the whole backside, and that was the key riding her today. Michael says she’s very aggressive. I galloped her yesterday morning, and she was pretty aggressive.”

Lift Up, breaking from the inside post, was eased back and moved off the rail heading down the backstretch as Lunar Garden led through opening fractions of :24.24 and :49.45.

Ladies Night was chasing in second as the others bunched up heading into the far turn, and the early leaders remained in place as the six furlongs went by in 1:13.51.

Lift Up was moving on the far outside at that point and looked a major danger. She’s the Berries, meanwhile, had saved ground throughout and was hitting her stride on the inside as they turned for home.

The outcome was in doubt until the final yards but Lift Up was good enough for the fractional victory over the 2-1 second choice in a final time of 1:43.57.

-edited from www.woodbine.com

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