02/04/2011 3:05PM

J P's Gusto moves to Petalino's barn at Oaklawn


ARCADIA, Calif. – J P’s Gusto, the winner of four sprint stakes and one of the leading 2-year-olds in California last year, will be transferred from trainer David Hofmans to Joe Petalino in Arkansas in coming days, the trainers said on Friday.

Hofmans said he initiated the change after expressing discontent earlier in the week about a decision by owner John Waken and his racing manager, Steve Bajer, to start J P’s Gusto in the $250,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 21 as well as an increased role by Bajer in race planning. Hofmans had hoped to start J P’s Gusto in the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 20.

Hofmans asked Waken to remove J P’s Gusto and another horse from his barn on Thursday.

“I felt there was too much interference from a third party,” Hofmans said.

Asked if he was surprised by Hofmans’s request, Waken said, “I was. I like David. I think he’s a good trainer.”

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Bajer said J P’s Gusto is intended for Oaklawn’s three stakes for 3-year-olds – the Southwest over a mile, the $300,000 Rebel Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on March 19, and the $1 million Arkansas Derby over 1 1/8 miles on April 16.

A winner of 4 of 8 starts and $527,360, J P’s Gusto has not raced since finishing second in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 18. In his only start outside of Southern California, J P’s Gusto was sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs in November. He won the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity over seven furlongs last September.

Bajer said by moving J P’s Gusto to Arkansas he can be showcased in other parts of the country.

“He’s only had one race away from here,” he said.

By Successful Appeal, J P’s Gusto has not won beyond seven furlongs, but has been second twice over 1 1/16 miles. With that in mind, the Kentucky Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles may be questionable, Bajer said.

“You can never say never, but his pedigree would indicate that,” Bajer said. “Hopefully, we’ll run in the Rebel and then we’ll see.”

Petalino said he expects the horse in coming days, but travel plans have not been finalized.

“He should fit pretty good here,” he said.