Baffert, with top two choices, seeks 5th straight CashCall win
IMPROBABLE COULD GIVE TRAINER FIFTH STRAIGHT FUTURITY, BAFFERT TIME
Bob Baffert is proving you can go home again. He first made his mark as a horse trainer with Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos, and he’ll return there Saturday to try and continue his domination of the Grade 1, $300,000 CashCall Futurity, a race he has won 10 times in its last 21 runnings, including all four since it was switched to Los Alamitos.
Formerly known as the Hollywood Futurity, the race was moved to Los Alamitos after Hollywood Park closed. Dortmund, Mor Spirit, Mastery, and McKinzie have given Baffert a sweep of the Futurity since Los Alamitos took possession of it, and he’ll have the top two choices Saturday in the unbeaten colts Improbable and Mucho Gusto, who head a field of six 2-yearolds going 1 1/16 miles.
Improbable has been oddson in both of his starts and figures to go favored. He won his debut going six furlongs at Santa Anita on Sept. 29, then captured the Street Sense Stakes, a one-turn mile, at Churchill Downs on Nov. 2, the same day Baffert won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with Game Winner. Drayden Van Dyke has ridden him in both starts and is back aboard.
“He didn’t get away really well,” Baffert said of the Street Sense. “He’s gotten a lot of schooling in his races. Drayden rides him with a lot of confidence. He didn’t panic last time. He found a seam.”
Improbable bounded clear for a 7 1/2-length victory in the Street Sense, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 93. He has worked four times since the Street Sense, including a fivefurlong drill at Santa Anita on Monday in 59.80 seconds that was the best of 67 at the distance.
“He’s got a great stride, really reaches way out there,” said Baffert. “Same kind of stride as Justify.”
Mucho Gusto also is unbeaten in two starts. He owns a win at Los Alamitos that came in his debut against maidens going six furlongs on Sept. 20, and then three weeks ago he scored a front-running win in the Grade 3 Bob Hope going seven furlongs at Del Mar.
“He’s gutty,” Baffert said. “He won’t wow you in the morning. He’s coming back quick. He’s worked well.”
Mucho Gusto has had two works since the Bob Hope, including a five-furlong drill in 1:00 on Monday at Santa Anita that was the third-fastest of 67 at the distance.
The Baffert runners bookend the field, with Improbable on the rail, Mucho Gusto on the outside in post 6.
Both Improbable and Mucho Gusto will be trying two turns for the first time. Both have some breeding for it. Improbable, by City Zip, is out of an A.P. Indy mare, while Mucho Gusto is a son of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man.
There are four others trying to stop Baffert’s duo.
Dueling, who has raced four times, all for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, was sixth last time out in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after defeating maidens at Santa Anita going a mile. He has proven he can go two turns.
King of Speed, a two-time stakes winner going long on grass, moves back to dirt for trainer Jeff Bonde after finishing 12th on a deep course he despised in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs.
Savagery, trained by Peter Miller, finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Mucho Gusto when second in the Bob Hope.
Extra Hope was fourth to Dueling in a maiden race at Santa Anita on Sept. 28 and subsequently beat maidens at Santa Anita going 1 1/16 miles when trainer Richard Mandella added blinkers. He was fourth last time out in the Bob Hope and should appreciate a return to two turns.
Not only is the Futurity the last Grade 1 race of the year for 2-year-old males, it also offers points toward a berth in next spring’s Kentucky Derby, with 10 points going to the winner.
Despite the success of the recent run of winners, which also includes 2013 juvenile champion Shared Belief, the Futurity was recently downgraded to a Grade 2 for the 2019 edition.
“Pretty disappointing,” said Baffert of the Futurity’s demotion. “It’s such an important race.”
The Futurity is race 5 on a nine-race card that begins at 12:30 p.m. Pacific and also includes, two races later, the Grade 1, $300,000 Starlet for 2-year-old fillies.
Mucho Gusto’s wins include a six-furlong maiden at Los Alamitos and the Bob Hope at Santa Anita.