Mucho Gusto Proves Deserving Favorite In Laz Barrera

Breaking from the rail for the third time in his six-race career, Bob Baffert’s Mucho Gusto took serious early pressure but dictated terms throughout, shaking off his pursuers a furlong from home en route to a handy 3 ¼ length win in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Lazaro Barrera Stakes at Santa Anita. Ridden by Joe Talamo, the 3-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Mucho Macho Man got seven furlongs in 1:22.96.

“He’s drawn the rail a lot and he’s still able to relax after he gets serious pressure,” said Talamo, who’s ridden Mucho Gusto in all of his races. “Today, he took two or three breathers around the turn and then he took off…After he broke his maiden (first time out at Los Alamitos on Sept. 20), I started working him a lot at Del Mar. He never acted like a 2-year-old, he acted like an older horse.”

Third going a mile and one eighth in the Grade III Sunland Derby March 24, Mucho Gusto, who is out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Itsagiantcauseway, was off as the 1-2 favorite in field of six sophomores and paid $3.00, $2.20 and $2.10.

Owned by Michael Lund Petersen, Mucho Gusto picked up his third graded stakes win and a check of $60,000, increasing his earnings to $370,800. With all of his wins coming in graded stakes, he now has an overall mark of 6-4-1-1.

Last after the first quarter mile, the Phil Oviedo-trained Manhattan Up finished with a flourish, touching Vantastic by a head for second money. Off at 5-1 with Tiago Pereira, Manhattan Up paid $4.80 and $2.80.

“I’m feeling really good,” said Oviedo, himself a native of Bisbee, Arizona. “It looked like speed was holding all day, so for him to finish up like he did was pretty impressive. I might run him around two turns before the meet is over.”

Vantastic, who sat a close third early, tried to pounce on the winner turning for home, but couldn’t match strides with him an eighth of a mile out. Ridden by Flavien Prat, Vantastic, who finished 3 ½ lengths in front of second choice Sparky Ville, was off at 6-1 and paid $3.00 to show.

Fractions on the race were 22.41, 45.58 and 1:10.40.

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