Kentucky Derby

Los Alamitos Futurity Preview: Baffert Loaded Again

Improbable Winning the $100,000 Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs (Coady Photography)

The Grade 1, $300,000 CashCall Futurity Stakes is set for this Saturday at Los Alamitos Race Course. The event will go off as race five on a nine-race card, which also includes the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes. The Futurity is a Kentucky Derby Prep race, giving the winner 10 Kentucky Derby points, while 4 points will be rewarded for second place, 2 for third, and 1 for fourth. This race has a rich tradition, with horses such as Snow Chief, A.P. Indy, Best Pal, Real Quiet, Point Given, Lookin At Lucky, and Shared Belief all winning the event before going on to have tremendous careers. Local post time for this year’s running will be 2:28 PM PT.

Trainer Bob Baffert has won this contest four years in a row and brings in two starters for this year’s race. Owned by WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd., and Starlight Racing, Improbable is his main contender. The son of City Zip is a perfect 2-for-2 so far in his young career, following up his debut maiden special weight win with an impressive 7 1/4-length score while stretching to a mile in the $100,000 Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs.

His other entry is Mucho Gusto, a son of former Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man. Mucho Gusto broke his maiden by 4 lengths in his September 20 debut at Los Alamitos before leading throughout to take the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar. The duo gives Baffert a formidable pair, just like last year when he brought McKinzie and Solomini into the race.

If you are looking to go against Baffert in this spot, the Richard Mandella-trained Extra Hope may be a horse to consider. The son of Shanghai Bobby will be stretching out in distance for this race after finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes. The colt has won once in five starts while accumulating earnings of $58,200.

The full field from the rail out includes Improbable, Savagery, Dueling, King of Speed, Extra Hope, and Mucho Gusto.

Horse Racing Picks

Top Choice

#1 Improbable – Baffert is completely loaded with juveniles once again this year, and while Game Winner stole the headlines on Breeders’ Cup Friday with his Juvenile victory, several experts were quick to point out Improbable, who won the $100,000 Street Sense Stakes earlier in the day. In that race, he stalked the early pace before totally dominating his rivals down the stretch, winning in runaway fashion. So far, this horse has checked all the boxes while looking like a “miniature Justify” through two starts. He is already a prime Kentucky Derby contender heading into 2019, and a win here could push him up to the top of the list.

Horses to Use In Multi-Race Wagers

#6 Mucho Gusto – It looks as though Baffert has them surrounded with Improbable drawing the rail and this horse drawing the far outside post. In a field of six, none of that really matters. What does matter, though, is the talent that this horse has displayed in his only two starts. There is no doubt that Improbable is widely known as the better of the two horses; however, don’t sleep on Mucho Gusto, who showed a lot of heart in his Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes victory. This will be his first race around two turns, which seems to be the only concern coming into this contest – other than his own stablemate, who might just be a better horse than him.

Exotic Plays

#5 Extra Hope – You really have to love how much this horse improved when running around two turns. Two races back, Extra Hope broke his maiden at Santa Anita Park by nearly 9 lengths when running 1 1/16 miles. In his next start, he cut back to 7 furlongs at Del Mar and was fourth in the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes. The stretch back out to two turns is exactly what needed to happen next for him, which makes him a logical option here. This will be the main danger to Baffert.

Party Crashers

#3 Dueling – It is nearly impossible to go straight from a maiden special weight win to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which is exactly what Dueling tried to do in his last start. He wasn’t awful at the Breeders’ Cup, finishing sixth while making a decent middle move. With that seasoning under his belt, the son of Violence could be ready for an improved performance. He is likely to get ignored at the windows, which could push his odds up just far enough to make him a playable alternative to the Baffert brigade.

Throw Outs

#2 Savagery – We have him in the throw-out category; however, that does not mean that he lacks talent. In a six-horse field, you have to take a stand against a few, which is what we think you should do with Savagery. He was second to Mucho Gusto last time out in the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes and was also second to Sparky Ville in the $70,000 Sunny Slope Stakes at Santa Anita. His best race will make him competitive here, but to win, he will have to show some improvement.

#4 King of Speed – This entry is a bit of a head-scratcher. After two poor performances on the dirt, he moved to the turf, where he enjoyed success. Two races back, this horse won the $100,000 Zuma Beach Stakes before finishing 12th last time out in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. It’s very questionable that a move back to the dirt is what this horse needs.

The Bet

We like Improbable on top, but how are we playing the race? Try our PREMIUM PICKS that include exacta, trifecta, and multi-race wager suggestions along with our most likely winner and best value play from each day.

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