Saturday a Big Day for Derby Hopefuls

Saturday featured three Derby prep races, but it looks like only one winner may be for real.

Mucho Gusto proved he belongs in Bob Baffert’s barn with an impressive win in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. The son of Mucho Macho Man ran his record to 3 wins in 4 starts.

Mucho Gusto kept pace with the leader, Magnificent McCool, two lengths back for most of the race. When the small field headed into the final turn, jockey Joe Talamo made his move, and Mucho Gusto easily passed the leader and headed home with a 5-length victory.

Kid Cantina was pulled up entering the backstretch and had to be euthanized.

Holy Bull Stakes

Harvey Wallbanger pulled a huge upset in the Holy Bull Stakes, lying back in last place and then making a ground-saving trip along the rail to sneak past previously undefeated Maximus Mischief to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

Epic Dreamer set the early pace with Irad Ortiz aboard, while his brother, Jose, waited patiently behind him on Maximus Mischief. Maximus Mischief slowly gained ground around the far turn, and the two seemed destined for a stretch duel before Brian Hernandez let Harvey Wallbanger go for the leaders while galloping next to the rail.

He closed quickly and defeated another quickly-closing longshot, Everfast. Maximus Mischief, who seemed to tire after the fast pace, had to settle for a disappointing third.

Withers Stakes

In the Withers Stakes, Tax did what he was supposed to – defeat a weak field – but did so only by a nose over Not That Brady. Tax stumbled at the start but still found a fast trip around the rail as Not That Brady set the pace. Our Braintrut stalked him for most of the race, then went up to challenge him at the far turn.

Tax squeezed in between Not That Brady and the rail – barely – and took the lead, just managing to hold off Not That Brady by a head. Our Braintrust held on for third.

Peter Lee

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