A 10-time winner, Bob Baffert appears likely to continue his stranglehold upon the $300,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) when sending out Improbable and Mucho Gusto on Saturday. The unbeaten stakes winners are top contenders in a field of six.
The 1 1/16-mile test offers a total of 17 points to the top four finishers (10-4-2-1) as a qualifier in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
A Hall of Famer and two-time Triple Crown winner, Baffert has won the last four editions of the Los Alamitos Futurity with McKinzie, Mastery, Mor Spirit and Dortmund. He also counts Liaison, Lookin at Lucky, Pioneerof the Nile, Point Given, Captain Steve and Real Quiet among his victors.
The Futurity has continued to serve as a premier juvenile event for Triple Crown hopefuls since moving to Los Alamitos in 2014, with Mastery and McKinzie rating as leading Kentucky Derby contenders before being sidelined and Dortmund finishing third at short odds in the 2015 Kentucky Derby, but the American Graded Stakes Committee recently elected to downgrade it to Grade 2 status despite the constant stream of powerhouse rosters.
Improbable and Mucho Gusto were both included in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager in late November.
A 2-5 debut winner at Santa Anita on September 29, Improbable shipped to Churchill Downs and romped by 7 1/4 lengths in the Street Sense on the Breeders’ Cup Friday undercard. The City Zip colt appears destined to be heavily favored for the third straight start and will stretch out to two turns with Drayden Van Dyke.
Mucho Gusto has won comfortably on the lead in both outings, including his maiden triumph at Los Alamitos on September 20. Purchased for $625,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Maryland May sale earlier this year, the son of Mucho Macho Man exits a 1 1/2-length tally in the seven-furlong Bob Hope (G3) at Del Mar on November 17 and will show early speed from his outermost post under Joe Talamo.
Dueling is eligible to improve upon a sixth in his initial stakes attempt, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). A 2 3/4-length maiden scorer when trying two turns in a September 28 maiden special weight, the Violence colt is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and will be reunited with three-time Futurity winner Mike Smith.
A multiple stakes winner on turf, King of Speed will switch back to the main track for Jeff Bonde following a 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). Kent Desormeaux picks up the mount. Bob Hope runner-up Savagery may be prominent in the early stages. Extra Hope, fourth in the Bob Hope, completes the field.