09/13/2013 1:54PM

Barretts at Fairplex: Gangnam Guy meets I Earned It Baby in Barretts Juvenile


POMONA, Calif. – The gradually improving Gangnam Guy and flashy debut winner I Earned It Baby are the key entrants in Sunday’s $100,000 Barretts Juvenile at the Los Angeles County Fair. But the 6 1/2-furlong sprint is more than a two-horse contest. A good field entered the race for 2-year-old colts and geldings offered for sale at any Barretts auction.

The lineup includes the late-running Hirschy, who won both of his starts in Northern California, including a stakes at Santa Rosa; the speedster Hi Fashioned, a runner-up twice in fast maiden races at Del Mar; and the stakes-placed Willie B Awesome, returning from a six-week layoff.

Gangnam Guy was a $16,000 yearling purchase by Dick Barton in October at Barretts.

“He was just a good-looking horse,” trainer Mike Machowsky said. “We were taking a shot with a horse by a stallion that you didn’t know how would work out.”

Gangnam Guy, 1 for 5 overall but in the money in every start, is from the first crop sired by Roi Charmant, a stakes-placed allowance runner who won 8 of 27, including 3 of 9 for Machowsky. Each start by Gangnam Guy has been better than the previous one, including a runner-up finish last out in his first start with blinkers.

“He’s kind of putting it all together,” Machowsky said. “Unfortunately, he seems to draw the rail every time he runs.”

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Gangnam Guy broke from the rail three times and drew post 2 on two other occasions. The draw gives jockey Edwin Maldonado few options: Gangnam Guy must use his speed.

He also has a significant experience edge over I Earned It Baby, a Carla Gaines-trained son of Hard Spun who scored an impressive debut victory his only start.

I Earned It Baby, purchased for $200,000 at the March sale of 2-year-olds, overcame a rocky trip to win Aug. 25. Owned by Robert and Betty Irvin, I Earned It Baby was overlooked at 16-1 and ran as if he should have been favored. Shuffled back early, he regained his stride, rallied four wide on the turn, surged to the lead, and won by three-quarters of a length.

“He showed a lot of tenacity and class,” Gaines said. “And he’s got natural speed.”

I Earned It Baby ran in the name of Gaines’s assistant, Jerry Quinn, in his first start while Gaines served a suspension. The colt runs in Gaines’s name Sunday, with an amazing trainer angle in his favor. Gaines is 9 for 9 over the past three years with second-time starters who won their debuts. Martin Garcia rides I Earned It Baby.

Hirschy won both of his starts this summer at Santa Rosa. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, he will roll late under Martin Pedroza.

Hi Fashioned dueled through a fast pace and finished second last out in a fast maiden race. He might be the speed of the speed.

Willie B Awesome is a full brother to Grade 1 winner Willa B Awesome, a filly who won the 2011 Barretts Debutante.

Rounding out the field are Now You’re It, Outlook, Raise the Hoof, Storm Reveler, Echo Zulu, and the also-eligible Tombigbee.