There are three graded stakes across the country this weekend, including the Bob Hope S. at Del Mar and River City H. at Churchill Downs. With the scratch of Metropol, it will be a field of six in the G3 Bob Hope S. going seven furlongs for two-year-olds. This looks like a great spot for Bob Baffert’s contender Mucho Gusto. He won by an easy four lengths in his six-furlong debut at Los Alamitos on September 20th, where jockey Joe Talamo never brought out the whip during the stretch and had a lot of horse left at the end. Mucho Gusto is a son of Breeder’s Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, so distance will not be a problem. The other horse I am watching is Extra Hope. While he was mediocre in his first three starts, adding blinkers made a huge difference since he broke his maiden by 8 ¾ lengths in his last start. That was at 1 1/16 miles, so he will be cutting back in distance for this race.
In the G3 River City H., I like Mr. Misunderstood, Big Changes, and Oscar Nominated. Mr. Misunderstood won his first eight starts on the turf, including the Jefferson Cup and Commonwealth Turf Cup (G3) at Churchill Downs. He is three-for-three at Churchill Downs and looks ready to resume his winning ways at his favorite track. While he was defeated in the Kentucky Downs Tourist Mile and Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, he was carrying a lot of weight in those races and will be losing five pounds for this start. Big Changes is coming in on a five race win streak that includes stakes wins at three different tracks. He most recently defeated a good field of eleven in a conditional allowance at Keeneland. Oscar Nominated is a multiple Grade 3 winning son of Kitten’s Joy. He has finished off the board in the Sycamore S. (G3), Kentucky Downs Turf Cup (G3), and United Nations (G1) in his most recent starts, but will be cutting back in distance which should help him.