GEM Inc.’s J P's Gusto, who hadn’t won a race since the grade I Del Mar Futurity last September, signaled his fondness for sprinting with a blowout victory in the $400,000 Red Legend Stakes for 3-year-olds at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races June 18 (VIDEO).
Before the race trainer Mike Hushion indicated the goal for J P’s Gusto is the grade I King’s Bishop Stakes at Saratoga in late August. His win in the Red Legend, like the King’s Bishop at seven furlongs but around two turns, probably provided the ticket.
J P’s Gusto, favored in a field of 10 that included many graded-stakes competitors, sat in second behind Der Meister through the opening quarter-mile, took the lead at the three-eighths pole and was ridden out by jockey J.D. Acosta to win by 6 3/4 lengths. Fractions on the fast Charles Town surface were :23.34, :46.77, and 1:11.35, with a final time of 1:25.03.
When Acosta asked for run on the backstretch, the race was over. No one came close to threatening J P’s Gusto.
“I tried to sit right off (Der Meister) and go by that one,” said Acosta, who is based at Charles Town. “That’s the whole deal with the track here—stay out of trouble with a horse like this and you’ll be good.”
Hushion assistant Juan Vazquez said he believed J P’s Gusto would handle the six-furlong surface at Charles Town. “We knew what kind of horse he is,” Vazquez said. “He has got speed, and we knew he could handle it on this racetrack.”
J P’s Gusto, by Successful Appeal out of the Caller I.D. mare Call Her Magic, was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm. After a series of strong efforts in California as a 2-year-old while trained by David Hofmans, he was transferred to Joe Petalino’s barn and was on the Triple Crown trail.
After a good second-place finish in the grade III Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, J P’s Gusto failed to make an impact in subsequent races. Hushion then took over training and prepared him at his Belmont Park base.
J P’s Gusto now has five wins in 12 starts. All five victories have come at seven furlongs or shorter, including the grade II Best Pal Stakes and grade III Hollywood Juvenile Championship.