With four consecutive stakes victories, J P's Gusto has dominated the Southern California juvenile stage. In Oak Tree's $250,000 Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) at Hollywood Park Oct. 2, he'll try two turns for the first time.
A Successful Appeal ridgling out of the Caller I.D. mare Call Her Magic, J P's Gusto cruised to a 4 1/2-length victory as the odds-on favorite in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) Sept. 8. He covered the seven-furlong distance, his longest journey to date, impressively in 1:22.95 over the Polytrack.
He will have six opponents on the Cushion Track in the 1 1/16-mile Norfolk, which is the sixth race on an Oak Tree program that includes three other grade I events. All are Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" challenge races, with the Norfolk winner gaining passage to the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs. Post time for the Norfolk is 3:39 p.m. PDT.
Unplaced in his debut versus maidens May 9, J P's Gusto won the Willard Proctor Memorial and Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) at Hollywood Park, then continued his streak in Del Mar's Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) and the Futurity, in which he drew away from his rivals through the stretch. Trained by David Hofmans for owner Gem, Inc., the bay has won four of five starts and earned $337,360.
Patrick Valenzuela, who rode J P's Gusto in both of his Del Mar victories, stays aboard. They'll break from the rail while carrying equal weight of 122 pounds.
Zayat Stables' maiden Jaycito, second in the Del Mar Futurity after rallying from last, some 13 lengths off the pace at the first call, will try again for trainer Mike Mitchell. The son of Victory Gallop was second in both of his starts this summer.
Also coming out of the Del Mar Futurity is Riveting Reason, who finished third, nearly eight lengths behind J P's Gusto. Riveting Reason, a maiden son Fusaichi Pegasus owned and trained by Myung Kwon Cho, made a menacing move on the turn but came up short in the stretch.
Three contenders come into the Norfolk off wins.
Boxeur des Rues took a one-mile maiden race over a synthetic track worth $6,082 by a nose at first asking at Kempton in England. He was privately purchased by trainer Doug O’Neill for owner J. Paul Reddam. He’s a Kentucky-bred son of Smart Strike and the Caerleon mare Marseille Express.
The colt arrived at Hollywood a week ago and worked three furlongs on Cushion Track in :37 3/5 Sept. 29 before O’Neill made the decision to enter.
“He just cleared quarantine a few days ago,” said O’Neill. “He walked out of the gate in his debut and came flying. He was bought privately after that.”
Boxer des Rues, to be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, drew post 3 for his U.S. debut.
Acaffella, a Mr. Greeley colt, earned his maiden victory by six lengths in the Angel Island Stakes Sept. 11 at Golden Gate. He has a win and a second in two starts for Spendthrift Farm and trainer Richard Mandella. Russell Baze travels from Northern California to take the call.
Also coming off a maiden victory is Clearance Clarence, winner of a $32,000 claiming race at one mile at Del Mar in his last start Sept. 2. The son of Cryptoclearance was supplemented to the Norfolk for $4,000 by trainer George Papaprodromou.
California-bred Lucky Mr. K tries open company for the first time in five starts for trainer Jeff Bonde. The Benchmark colt was most recently third by a half-length in the I'm Smokin Stakes at Del Mar Sept. 6.
$250,000 Norfolk Stakes (gr. I, Race 6, 3:39 p.m.), 2-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles (Synthetic)
PP. Horse, Jockey Trainer
1. J P's Gusto (KY), P A Valenzuela, D E Hofmans
2. Clearance Clarence (KY), C S Nakatani, G Papaprodromou
3. Boxeur des Rues (KY), R Bejarano, D F O'Neill
4. Lucky Mr. K (CA), J Talamo, J Bonde
5. Acaffella (KY), R A Baze, R E Mandella
6. Riveting Reason (KY), V Espinoza, M K Cho
7. Jaycito (KY), M E Smith, M R Mitchell
All carry 122 pounds.