Trainer David Hofmans is hoping that J P’s Gusto can extend his winning streak to three in a row Sunday when he sends the 2-1 morning line favorite to the starting gate for the 40th running of the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar.
J P’s Gusto comes into the race with a 4 ½ - length win in the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes on May 31 and a win by a neck in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes (G3) on July 5. J P’s Gusto has been working out good and he should run another good race.
J P’s Gusto is a descendant of the Man o’ War sire line and Officer (2001) is the only horse from that line to win the Best Pal since 1990.
In his last outing, Western Mood (5-2) finished second to J P’s Gusto in the Hollywood Juvenile and with the extra half furlong I would not be surprised to see him best the Hollywood Juvenile victor.
Western Mood is a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line and since 1990 four horses from that sire line have won the Best Pal: Lookin at Lucky (2009), What A Song (2005), Roman Ruler (2004) and Timber Country (1994).
Trainer Jeff Bonde ships Sway Away (5-2) in from Pleasanton where he broke his maiden in a 5-furlong sprint on June 27. Sway Away earned a 102 Brisnet Speed Figure and, although he is stepping up in class, if he repeats that performance, Sway Away could be tough to beat.
Sway Away is also a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line. His sire, Afleet Alex, won the 2005 Preakness (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1). His damsire is the 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.
Surprisingly, there are no descendants of the Northern Dancer sire line entered in the Best Pal. The Northern Dancer line has produced four winners since 1990: Azul Leon (2008), Salute The Sarge (2007), Principle Secret (2006) and Dixie Union (1999).
I had hoped that the filly Wickedly Perfect would run in the Best Pal. She had been cross-entered Best Pal and the Sorrento Stakes (G3) but was scratched to run in the Sorrento, which she won by one length.
Wickedly Perfect is a descendant of the Bold Ruler sire line and that line has produced three winners of the Best Pal since 1990: Perfect Moon (2003), Cobra King (1995) and Scherando (1991).