Baffert updates on 3-year-olds with two Pennsylvania Derby prospects

September 03, 2019 04:39pm

Improbable, who made a winning return Aug. 25 in the Shared Belief Stakes, returned to the work tab on schedule Tuesday, breezing a half mile at Del Mar in 48.40 seconds.

Mucho Gusto, third in the Travers Stakes (G1) a day before his stalemate scored on the opposite coast, isn’t too far from posting a timed breeze, too.

Trainer Bob Baffert will weigh a trip to the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby for either 3-year-old or both — these decisions are rarely made early by the barn — with the 1 1/8-mile race renewing on Sept. 21 at Parx Racing.

“Improbable worked really well,” Baffert said. “We’re looking right now, depending on the next couple of works, the Parx race. It’s an option.”

Improbable, placed fourth in the Kentucky Derby before finishing sixth in the Preakness Stakes, made the Shared Belief his first win of the season. Reuniting with jockey Drayden Van Dyke, the chestnut son of City Zip was keen to go early, then extended for a 2 3/4-length win over previously unbeaten King Jack.

Baffert has also mentioned Improbable as a contender for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile later this season.

“Right now we’re just going to go race by race and let dictate where he runs,” the trainer said.

As for Mucho Gusto, a son of Mucho Macho Man who also ran second this summer in the Haskell Invitational (G1), Baffert is “just going light with him right now.”

“He’s a tough of a gun,” Baffert said. “He can handle a lot, but he had those two hard races. He still looks fit.”

Mucho Gusto has transformed from an early speedster at 2 to a more refined presser at 3, able to relax near the front. He won consecutive Grade 3 events at Santa Anita Park to earn his ticket back to higher-class events.

If not the Pennsylvania Derby, Mucho Gusto could appear in the Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby on Sept. 29 at Remington Park.

“I’m watching the Pennsylvania race closely because Maximum Security, he’s still the best,” Baffert said.

The Hall of Fame trainer also offered an update Monday on another pair of high-profile sophomores.

Game Winner, who missed the Travers after developing a temperature leading up to the Mid-Summer Derby, doesn’t have a race penciled in.

“I backed off after that,” Baffert said. “It was disappointing. He’s not doing much.”

Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Roadster, off since finishing second to Mucho Gusto in the June 16 Affirmed (G3), breezed Saturday for the first time in a month.

“He’s slowly getting back on the work tab,” Baffert said. “He’s got a ways to go.”


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