The action started to heat up last weekend, with racing finally turning the page on the Breeders’ Cup. Churchill Downs, Aqueduct, and Del Mar filled the schedule with action all weekend long. There were a few major 2-year-old performances to keep an eye on at Del Mar, while the older horses took center stage around the rest of the country. Let’s check out the weekend’s three biggest stars:
1. Mr. Misunderstood
This ultra-consistent horse picked up another nice win to add to his resume last Saturday in the Grade 3 River City Handicap at Churchill Downs. His stablemate Big Changes went out to lead and set nice early fractions without much pressure up front. Mr. Misunderstood sat just a length behind the leader, then simply zoomed past his rival in the stretch to win the race under only mild urging. The win gives him 12 victories in 21 starts, including 3 wins in 8 starts this year. He will now be pointed towards bigger races in 2019, with the goal of becoming a millionaire well within his grasp.
2. Mucho Gusto
Let us introduce you to the newest Kentucky Derby prospect for trainer Bob Baffert. After breaking his maiden easily at Los Alamitos, Mucho Gusto made it two in a row with a workman-like effort to win the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes last Saturday at Del Mar. The son of Mucho Macho Man broke sharply, went to the front with a bit of pressure, then turned away his rivals down the lane to win the race by 1 1/2 lengths. A win like this sets him up for a Kentucky Derby prep race next. As always, Baffert seems to be ready for another assault on the Kentucky Derby, with several prospects lining up ready to roll in 2019.
3. Village King
Saturday’s Grade 3 Red Smith Stakes at Aqueduct may have been taken off the turf, but the race still provided plenty of drama. Village King took advantage of a slow pace, made a late run, and beat Soglio in a tight photo as the two horses hit the wire together in the end. The win was the first American victory for Village King in three tries after running at San Isidro in Argentina to begin his career. The horse will have plenty of options moving forward with his proven ability to run on both dirt and turf for trainer Todd Pletcher.