The son of Successful Appeal —Call Her Magic, by Caller I.D., was the heavy favorite at 3-5 in a field with seven other challengers going six furlongs. He was ridden by Joe Talamo and trained by David Hofmans.
River Chapel, a son of Chapel Royal—Summer Band, by Dixieland Band, rocketed out of the gate at the start and tried to run away with the race, opening a four-length lead from the rest of the field down the backstretch. The open quarter-mile was :22.06 and the half in :45.41. He held the lead through the turn but his advantage had completely evaporated at the top of the stretch where J P’s Gusto and Western Mood caught up and hook up. Western Mood, ridden by Joel Rosario, fought valiantly and closed the gap from a half a length to a head but couldn’t get by J P’s Gusto and jockey Joe Talamo. The final time was 1:10.48.
“For being so young he’s so mature and very, very professional,” Talamo said. “I knew the horse in front was going very quick for a 2-year-old. At three-quarters, I definitely thought he was going to stop the last part. I had to move a little bit earlier than I would have liked to because (Joel) Rosario (on Western Mood) moved too and I just went with him. That’s why we stayed so wide coming off the turn...we made it kind of our race. He was really finishing the last part.”
Trainer David Hofmans said thought the race was a real confidence-builder for J P’s Gusto, who is owned by Gem Inc. and was bred by WinStar Farm in Kentucky.
“He’s always been a confident horse, but I think this will give him more confidence, especially the way he came back,” he said. “Not all horses will do that once they get headed in deep stretch like that. I think he’s right up there with General Meeting. He reminds me of General Meeting a lot, they’re similar in their body style.” General Meeting is a grade III stakes winner Hofmans trained for Golden Eagle Farm and who finished second in the 1990 Hollywood Futurity (gr. I).
J P's Gusto was sold for $52,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale to agent Steve Bajer. He made his first start May 9 and finished sixth. In his next start, he won the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes at Hollywood Park May 31. Hofmans said the bay ridgling will next start in the Best Pal Stakes on Aug. 8 at Del Mar with the goal of entering the Del Mar Futurity Sept. 8.
Rosario said he was pleased to be only a neck off the leader at the wire.
“The other horse floated me out a little bit, by my horse was digging in,” he said. “(Western Mood) is still learning, it was only his second start. He’s a real good horse, and I think this race will help him next time.” Western Mood is a son of West Acre—True Mood, by Deputy Minister.
Finishing 5 3/4 lengths back in third was Minutesandtouches, a son of Rockport Harbor—Flexible Princess, by Honour and Glory.
J P’s Gusto paid $3.40, $2.20, and $2.10. Western Mood paid $2.40 and $2.10, while Minutesandtouches paid $4.60. The $2 exacta paid $5.20, and the $2 trifecta paid $28.