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Most Valuable Pony (January 20 - 26): Mucho Gusto

by Jeremy Plonk

January 27, 2020

Each Monday, I’ll select my Most Valuable Pony from the previous week’s racing action around the country. Who won the week? It could be a breakout performer, a known stakes commodity or the horse lifting the most loot. Chime in on Twitter @Xpressbet with your thoughts on who should be each week’s MVP.

January 20-16, 2020

MVP: Mucho Gusto

Owner: Prince Faisal bin Khaled

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Performance: Dominant winner of Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup, Mucho Gusto’s breakout party was quite a performance. He won four Grade 3 races in 2018-'19 as a freshman and sophomore, but nothing like this. Those who had watched his recent workouts at XBTV.com understood that this kind of performance was possible against a field that had lost favorites Omaha Beach and Spun to Run to injury and illness. Irad Ortiz Jr. hustled Mucho Gusto from the gate to secure position, he came back to hand for the rider in a perfect, pressing trip behind Mr. Freeze and Bodexpress, then simply tackled them both at the quarter-pole and cruised home by 4-1/2 emphatic lengths.

On Tap: Purchased by Prince Faisal bin Khaled specifically with the inaugural Saudi Cup in mind, he heads to the Middle East with a major chance at taking top prize in that $20 million jackpot on February 29. Baffert is no stranger to shipping to that part of the world with success, taking the Dubai World Cup with the likes of Silver Charm, Captain Steve and Arrogate.

Honorable Mentions: Zulu Alpha’s rail-skimming rally to win Saturday’s Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf over world traveler Magic Wand was a career-best effort for that Mike Maker trainee. Pink Sands shot out of a rocket to roll late in Saturday’s Grade 2 Inside Information at Gulfstream for Shug McGaughey. She provided memories of barn predecessor Honor Code and his 2015 Met Mile late eruption.