Del Mar Futurity (G1) winner J P'S GUSTO (Successful Appeal) galloped over the Oaklawn Park surface for the first time Saturday morning since arriving from California earlier this week.
Now with trainer Joe Petalino, the ridgling is being pointed for the February 21 Southwest S. (G3), the March 19 Rebel S. (G2) and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 16.
J P's Gusto galloped 1 1/2 miles over the muddy surface that was reopened for training for the first time since a winter storm swept through Hot Springs, Arkansas, on Wednesday. In fact, J P's Gusto arrived in Memphis Wednesday and had to make his way to Oaklawn as the storm was beginning.
Petalino indicated he would try to work his new pupil Monday morning. Four-for-eight so far, J P's Gusto was most recently second in the December 18 Cash Call Futurity (G1) at Hollywood Park for former trainer David Hofmans.
In other news from Oaklawn Park, trainer Tony Dutrow said that J W BLUE (Sky Mesa) needs some time to grow up. As a result, he will skip the Southwest and point toward the Rebel.
The sophomore opened eyes with an impressive allowance race victory at Oaklawn January 29, but it was just his second win in his fourth career start. Dutrow is reluctant to throw the colt into the fray too soon.
"He still has an enormous amount to prove," he said Saturday morning. "We want to give him a little time two mature a little bit more."
Out of the stakes-winning Dynaformer mare Kentucky Storm, J W Blue has spent his entire career racing at distances of a mile or more. That's been important as a recurring mark of his immaturity has been a tendency to break from the gate slowly. It cost the colt in an optional allowance at Aqueduct December 19, but he was able to overcome it in his Oaklawn debut last month.
Dutrow is also concerned that J W Blue's last race didn't rate very well according to different speed figures makers. He garnered only an 87 BRIS Speed rating.
"The fact is he did not run fast enough in his last race," he said. "We've got some time and he has enough racing. We need to work on his maturity and try the Rebel."