‘TDN Rising Star’ Improbable (City Zip) took his record to a perfect three-for-three with an impressive victory over stablemate and fellow ‘Rising Star’ Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man) in the GI Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity. It the 11th victory in this event for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who has captured the last five straight renewals of this race since it was moved from Hollywood Park to Los Alamitos.
Hammered down to 1-5 favoritism in this two-turn bow, Improbable exited his rail draw in good order and was patiently handled by Drayden Van Dyke, hugging the fence in mid-pack in the initial stages as Mucho Gusto hustled up to dictate terms with Savagery (Bellamy Road) right behind him. Both Baffert runners avoided trouble on the first bend as Savagery blew the turn carrying Extra Hope (Shanghai Bobby) out a few paths and sending Dueling (Violence) wheeling into the center of the track.
Mucho Gusto showed the way through an opening quarter in :23.25 and a half in :47.25 with Savagery pushing him along in a close second and Improbable tracking two wide in a joint third under a tight hold from Van Dyke. Let loose by his pilot on the backstretch run, Improbable was even with the top two in a matter of strides, making it three abreast turning for home. Savagery called it a day in early stretch leaving the Baffert duo to decide the result. Mucho Gusto tried his best to stick with his stablemate, but Improbable hit another gear in mid-stretch and instantly powered clear of the pacesetter to win as he pleased by five lengths. Mucho Gusto held second for a Baffert exacta, finishing another three lengths clear of Extra Hope. Savagery crossed the line fourth, but was disqualifed and placed fifth for interfering with Dueling, who was promoted to fourth.
“At the top of the stretch [Improbable] looked a little lost,” Baffert said. “[Van Dyke] had to hit him a couple of times. Once he straightened out, he got into that long, beautiful stride of his. The good horses always find a way to win. He had trained like he was going to run like this. I was really excited about [Mucho Gusto]. He tried very hard and just got a little tired. His race was very encouraging. We’ll just let these horses come along at their own pace and hope they stay healthy. That’s the key. Improbable has a long stride like Justify. He’s just a smaller version. I’m not saying he’s at Justify’s level yet, but he’s a really good horse.”
“We were just behind the trouble on the first turn, and to be honest, we benefitted because we ended up where wanted to be, three wide behind the leaders” Van Dyke said. “This is just such a cool horse. He hit another gear when we got to the stretch.”
“Bob has liked this horse all along,” said WinStar’s Elliott Walden. “When Justify went to the farm from Del Mar this summer, Bob put Improbable in his stall. I loved his race today. The best thing about it was his last eighth of a mile and the way he galloped out. That gives you the hope for the future and that’s what we’re all looking for going towards the Spring Classics.”
One of Baffert’s many debut winners of 2018 in a Sept. 29 event at Santa Anita, Improbable romped by 7 1/4 lengths next out in the one-mile Street Sense S. at Churchill Downs Nov. 2, earning the ‘TDN Rising Star’ nod in the process. Campaigned in his first two starts by WinStar, China Horse Club and SF Racing, the latter sold their racing ownership to Starlight Racing following the colt’s last effort.
Improbable is the 10th Grade I winner, 28th graded stakes winner and 79th black-type winner for the late City Zip, who passed away in July 2017 from chronic foot issues. The winner is the first foal to race out of the A.P. Indy mare Rare Event, who was purchased by Calumet Farm carrying a foal by Quality Road at the 2016 Keeneland November Sale. The resulting filly was purchased by WinStar for $180,000 at this term’s Keeneland September sale. Rare Event produced an Oxbow colt Mar. 4 of this year and was bred back to Cross Traffic. Improbable hails from the family of Grade I-winning Darley sire Hard Spun (Danzig).
Saturday, Los Alamitos
LOS ALAMITOS CASH CALL FUTURITY-GI, $300,345, Los Alamitos, 12-8, 2yo, 1 1/16m, 1:41.18, ft.
1–IMPROBABLE, 120, c, 2, by City Zip
1st Dam: Rare Event, by A.P. Indy
2nd Dam: Our Rite of Spring, by Stravinsky
3rd Dam: Turkish Tryst, by Turkoman
1ST GRADED STAKES WIN, 1ST GRADE I WIN. ($110,000 Wlg
’16 KEENOV; $200,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP). O-WinStar Farm LLC,
China Horse Club International Ltd. and Starlight Racing; B-St.
George Farm LLC & G. Watts Humphrey Jr. (KY); T-Bob Baffert;
J-Drayden Van Dyke. $180,000. Lifetime Record: 3-3-0-0,
$269,520. Click for eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk
Nick Rating: A.
2–Mucho Gusto, 120, c, 2, Mucho Macho Man—
Itsagiantcauseway, by Giant’s Causeway. ($14,000 Ylg ’17
KEEJAN; $95,000 Ylg ’17 KEESEP; $55,000 RNA 2yo ’18
OBSMAR; $625,000 2yo ’18 EASMAY). O-Michael Lund
Petersen; B-Teneri Farm Inc. & Bernardo Alvarez Calderon
(KY); T-Bob Baffert. $60,000.
3–Extra Hope, 120, c, 2, Shanghai Bobby–Lotsandlotsofhope, by
Tiznow. O-Jay Em Ess Stable; B-Samantha Siegel (KY); T-Richard Mandella. $36,000.
Margins: 5, 3, 3. Odds: 0.20, 4.20, 15.00.
Also Ran: Dueling, Savagery, King of Speed.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.