By Christie DeBernardis
‘TDN Rising Star’ Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man) will be the horse to beat Sunday when he lines up for the GIII Sunland Park Derby. Following his impressive debut win at Los Alamitos Sept. 20 with a victory in the GIII Bob Hope S. Nov. 17, the $625,000 EASMAY buy suffered his lone loss when second to stablemate and fellow ‘Rising Star’ Improbable (City Zip) in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity Dec. 8. The chestnut rebounded with a decisive score in the 1 1/16-mile GIII Robert B. Lewis over a sloppy Santa Anita surface Feb. 2 and enters this nine-panel test off a six-furlong breeze in 1:13 3/5 (2/11) at Santa Anita Mar. 18.
Also making the trip in from California is Anothertwistafate (Scat Daddy), whose three wins came over the Golden Gate synthetic. A non-factor ninth when making his career bow in a six-furlong test on the dirt at Santa Anita Nov. 3, the dark bay donned cap and gown by four lengths when extended to 1 1/16 miles at Golden Gate Dec. 9. Wiring the field for a five-length score in an optional claimer over that strip Jan. 4, the $360,000 OBSOPN purchase romped by seven lengths last time in that venue’s nine-furlong El Camino Real Derby Feb. 16. He is already proven at this distance, so the real question with this runner is whether he can run on dirt or is a synthetic specialist.
New Mexico native Hustle Up (Abstraction) is a perfect four-for-four at Sunland Park, including a win in the local prep for this test, the Mine That Bird Derby Feb. 24. Closing out his juvenile campaign with a win in the state-bred Steve Prather S. at Zia Park Dec. 10, the gelding followed suit with a win in the NM-bred Red Hedeman Mile S. here Feb. 2. Going straight to the lead in the Mine That Bird Derby, he bested the Steve Asmussen-trained Wicked Indeed (Tapit) by a length and Walker Stalker (Stroll) was another four lengths back in third.