GI Pegasus World Cup S. victor Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man) returns to action in Saturday's GII San Antonio S. after 10 months on the sidelines. A three-time graded winner as a sophomore last term, the $625,000 EASMAY buy hit the board in both the GI Haskell Invitational S. and GI Runhappy Travers S. last summer. Closing out 2019 with a fourth as the favorite in the GIII Oklahoma Derby last September, the 'TDN Rising Star' was privately purchased from Michael Lund Petersen by HRH Prince Faisal Bin Khaled with an eye on the inaugural Saudi Cup. The chestnut prepped for that with a dominant score in the Pegasus World Cup Jan. 25 and was fourth to champion Maximum Security (New Year's Day) in the $20-million Saudi Cup Feb. 29. Given some time off as his Hall of Fame conditioner Bob Baffert picked up some of the top trophies in the older dirt male division with Maximum Security and Improbable (City Zip), Mucho Gusto displays a bullet laden worktab leading up to this event, which his trainer is likely using as a prep for next month's Pegasus.
The top three from the GIII Native Diver S.–Extra Hope (Shanghai Bobby), Midcourt (Midnight Lute) and Combatant (Scat Daddy)–take a crack at the Baffert heavy hitter here. Combatant scored a career-high earlier this year with a neck success in the GI Santa Anita H. Midcourt is still awaiting a top-level score, but has placed in several Grade Is this term, including the Aug. 22 GI Pacific Classic and Sept. 26 GI Awesome Again S.