Three-time stakes winner J P's Gusto heads a field of 11 juveniles entered for the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) Sept. 8, the closing day of the popular 37-day summer meet at the California seaside track.
The seven-furlong Polytrack event is the eighth race on the final program with a post time of 5:30 p.m. PDT. Southern California Thoroughbred action switches to the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona for three weeks beginning Sept. 9.
Surprisingly absent from this year's Del Mar Futurity is nine-time winning trainer Bob Baffert, who won the race in 2008 and 2009 with Eclipse Award-winning juvenile champions Midshipman and Lookin At Lucky . His other victories in the Futurity came consecutively beginning in 1996 with Silver Charm through 2002.
Gem Inc.'s J P's Gusto, trained by David Hofmans, drilled a sharp four furlongs in :46 4/5 Sept. 4, the second-fastest morning clocking among 26 at the distance.
The precocious Kentucky-bred son of of Successful Appeal --Call Her Magic, by Caller I.D., rattled off consecutive wins in the Willard Proctor Memorial and Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) stakes at Hollywood Park this season. He is coming off a front-running half-length score in Del Mar's Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) Aug. 8.
Breaking from post 4 with Patrick Valenzuela aboard for the second time, J P's Gusto is by far the most accomplished runner in a field that includes three supplemental entries at $10,000 each. The ridgling carries top weight of 122 pounds.
Western Mood, from the Jerry Hollendorfer barn, rates the best shot at knocking off J P's Gusto. The Florida-bred son of West Acre owned by Hollendorfer and George Todaro has tried the favorite twice previously. He missed by a neck with a big stretch-running effort in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship July 5 before running third in the 6 1/2-furlong Best Pal, beaten by four lengths after pressing the pace.
Joel Rosario retains the mount on Western Mood, who drew post 7 and gets four pounds from J P's Gusto.
Also coming out of the Best Pal is fourth-place finisher Comma to the Top, who will be ridden for the first time by Corey Nakatani. Peter Miller trains the son of Bwana Charlie who broke his maiden against $50,000 claimers by nearly nine lengths as the odds-on choice at Del Mar July 22.
Other Futurity contenders who are winners this meet are Indian Winter, a $125,000 2-year-old purchase who broke his maiden at first asking for Hollendorfer Aug. 21, and McKenzies Way, a front-running 4 1/4-length maiden victor two weeks earlier for trainer Robert Troeger.
Riveting Reason, one of four maidens in the field, fired a bullet :46 3/5 four-furlong drill Sept. 4 for owner-trainer Myung Kwon Cho. The son of Fusaichi Pegasus led by two lengths in his last race Aug. 14 against maidens, but was caught late and finished second.
Also of interest is Major Art, who arrived Sept. 4 in the barn of Eric Kruljac after three days in quarantine at Hollywood Park following his transfer from England. Class Racing Stable's British-bred colt, making his synthetic track bow, placed in the Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes (Eng-II) in July at Goodwood.
Major Art is a supplementary entry, as are Riveting Reason and McKenzies Way.
Northern California conditioner Jeff Bonde entered Road Ready, winner of the Lost In The Fog Stakes as the favorite in his racing debut June 12 at Golden Gate Fields. Idle since then, the gray/roan son of More Than Ready has been training since July at Del Mar.
Maidens in the field are Jaycito, Just Imagine and Gahnzo Bob.
$250,000 Del Mar Futurity (gr. I, Race 8, 5:30 p.m.), 2-Year-Olds, 7 Furlongs (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Jaycito (KY), M Garcia, 116, M R Mitchell
2. Riveting Reason (KY), A O Solis, 116, M K Cho
3. McKenzies Way (KY), D R Flores, 118, R Troeger
4. J P's Gusto (KY), P A Valenzuela, 122, D E Hofmans
5. Just Imagine (KY), M A Pedroza, 116, D F O'Neill
6. Major Art (GB), M E Smith, 120, J E Kruljac
7. Western Mood (FL), J Rosario, 118, J Hollendorfer
8. Indian Winter (KY), R Bejarano, 118, J Hollendorfer
9. Comma to the Top (FL), C S Nakatani, 116, P Miller
10. Road Ready (KY), V Espinoza, 120, J Bonde
11. Gahnzo Bob (KY), A Quinonez, 116, M Pender
Blinkers On: Gahnzo Bob