Zipse’s Kentucky Derby Daily - Day 76
The Derby preps are really starting to roll and on Monday we have another good one, as a full field is set to clash in the Southwest Stakes. With the recent success of horses who have run at Oaklawn Park on the road to Louisville, it makes sense to pay close attention to their series of graded stakes for the sophomore set. The President’s Day field of eleven includes a number of interesting prospects like, Elite Alex, Yankee Passion, Archarcharch, and Caleb’s Posse, but it is the one horse already proven in graded competition that looms the one to beat.
A ridgling son of Successful Appeal out of the Caller I. D. mare Call Her Magic, J P’s Gusto arrived at Oaklawn on February 9 from Southern California, where he compiled the impressive resume of a multiple graded stakes winner. He’s been in Arkansas with his new trainer just long enough to get in one six furlong drill over the racing surface. J P's Gusto was recently transferred to trainer Joe Petalino by his owner, Dr. John Waken's Gem Stable, with the series of Southwest, Rebel, and Arkansas Derby in mind as the best possible way to prepare his horse for a run at the Kentucky Derby. Top rider Ramon Dominguez will be in the saddle for the first time on Monday.
You don’t have to go back very far to recall that J P’s Gusto was the top rated juvenile on the West Coast. Gritty wins last Summer in the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship, Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes, and Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity earned him that honor.
When last seen, he finished full of run when second to Comma to the Top in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity two months ago for former trainer David Hofmans. His one try on dirt resulted in a middle of the pack finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but his trip that day was less than ideal, so there is reason to believe that he can handle a traditional dirt surface.
I like some of the lightly raced colts in here a great deal, notably Elite Alex and Yankee Passion, but asking them to handle the quality experience of J P’s Gusto at this early stage may be too much to expect.
In other Derby Doings, a Todd Pletcher trifecta of high profile colts worked out this morning, including the undefeated champion Uncle Mo.