February 9, 2023

Mucho Gusto, Metropol solid threats for Baffert in Bob Hope

Mucho Gusto comfortably won his debut at Los Alamitos (Benoit Photos)

If it’s a graded stakes for two-year-olds at Del Mar, it should come as no surprise that trainer Bob Baffert will give himself every chance to win it. That will be the case Saturday when the Hall of Famer sends out two of the seven entrants in the $100,000 Bob Hope (G3) over seven furlongs.

Baffert’s duo of Mucho Gusto and Metropol both exit debut wins. Mucho Gusto dueled early before opening up to win by four lengths over next-out winner Vantastic at Los Alamitos on September 20. Joe Talamo retains the mount.

Metropol won a slightly more lucrative maiden heat at Santa Anita on October 8, settling a length or so off the pace-setting Street Image before wearing that rival down late to win by three parts of a length. Drayden Van Dyke is back aboard the son of Shackleford.

Also lining up in the Bob Hope, a potential prep for next month’s Los Alamitos Futurity (G1), are Sparky Ville and Savagery, one-two finishers in the restricted Sunny Slope at Santa Anita on October 21. Shortening up from 1 1/16 miles is Extra Hope, who blew away maiden rivals by more than eight lengths last time when adding blinkers in his fourth start for trainer Richard Mandella.

The field is completed by Owning, who won debut at Los Alamitos in July but went unplaced in the Best Pal (G2) and Del Mar Juvenile Turf, and maiden claiming graduate Sueno.

The 2017 Bob Hope was won in a 19-1 upset by the maiden Greyvitos.