J P's Gusto stamped himself among the best of his generation with an impressive 4 1/2-length score in the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) (VIDEO) , closing-day feature at the California seaside track. The win marked the fourth consecutive victory for the Successful Appeal ridgling, who was bet down to 4-5 in the field of 11.
With Patrick Valenzuela aboard, J P's Gusto broke sharply from post 4 and immediately challenged longshot Comma To The Top, who pressed the favorite the length of the backstretch through fractions of :22.72 and :45.46. J P's Gusto shook off all challengers near the quarter pole and steadily increased his margin, completing the seven furlongs in 1:22.95. The winner paid $3.60, $3, and $2.40.
"This was his best effort," winning trainer David Hofmans said. "I think the mile and a sixteenth [of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile] is within his reach, mainly because of his attitude. He's very smart and he waits for the rider to give him his cues. When I saw him inside on the turn and his ears were up, I was pretty comfortable. It was obvious he was waiting for Patrick to give him his cue. The more I train him, the more I think he'll go on."
Valenzuela agreed: "At the end, I think I still had a little bit more in the tank. If a horse had come up next to me, I think I'm still the winner. Can he go on? I think so. And I sure hope so."
Owned by Gem Inc., nom de course for Dr. John Waken, J P's Gusto won Del Mar's Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) in his previous start. He also has victories in the Willard Proctor Memorial and Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) at Hollywood Park. His Futurity score brings his earnings to $337,360.
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, J P's Gusto is out of the Caller I.D. mare Call Her Magic. He sold for $52,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale.