02/02/2011 5:15PM

J P's Gusto switches target to Oaklawn's Southwest

Benoit & Associates
J P's Gusto will ship from Southern California to Oaklawn Park for the Southwest Stakes.

J P’s Gusto, a four-time stakes winner last year, is expected to make his 3-year-old debut in the $250,000 Southwest Stakes over a mile at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 21 and will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez, according to Steve Bajer, racing manager for owner John Waken.

Trainer David Hofmans said last week that he was leaning toward the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes over seven furlongs at Santa Anita on Feb. 20, with the Southwest Stakes as a back-up. Bajer said the priority of the two races has been reversed.

“We like the distance and we like the spot,” Bajer said of the Southwest. “We’d like to showcase him for the rest of the country.”

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Dominguez, who won the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding jockey of 2010, replaces Joe Talamo, who rode J P’s Gusto to two sprint stakes wins and a second in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park last December. Patrick Valenzuela rode J P’s Gusto four times last year, including a win in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity.

“The horse ran well for Joe Talamo, but anytime you can get Ramon Dominguez, you take it,” Bajer said.

Turbulent Descent heads field for Las Virgenes

Mike Puype was on the phone with Santa Anita’s racing office before 9 a.m. Wednesday, entering Turbulent Descent in Saturday’s $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes. At the end of a brief conversation, Puype was asked if he had anything else to run on Saturday.

“No,” he said. “That’s enough.”

Turbulent Descent is plenty for any stable. Undefeated in three starts, Turbulent Descent was the leading of California’s 2-year-old filly division last year, and seeks to firm that status in the Las Virgenes for 3-year-olds, which is run over a mile. She galloped on the main track at Santa Anita on Wednesday for the first time.

Turbulent Descent is a stalker, who will have ample pace to follow from California Nectar, who is seeking her third stakes win of the meeting. She won the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for statebreds in December and the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes on Jan. 15, leading throughout both seven-furlong races.

Trainer Bob Baffert has two expected starters – May Day Rose, who won the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel Stakes on Jan. 9, and Plum Pretty, third to California Nectar in the Santa Ynez.

Reba Is Tops goes out with a flourish

Trainer Mark Glatt had a right to be choked up as he left the winner’s circle after Reba Is Tops won her final start in Sunday’s $78,400 Wishing Well Stakes.

Making her third appearance of January, Reba Is Tops rallied from last in a field of nine to win the race on the hillside turf course by 2 1/4 lengths. A winner of 14 of 29 starts and $454,709 for a partnership, Reba Is Tops will leave for Kentucky in coming weeks and will be bred to Broken Vow.

It was Reba Is Tops’s late kick, and the significance of Sunday’s farewell race, that left Glatt emotional and proud.

“When she was on the hillside, I thought, ‘This is going to backfire, her third race in a month,’ ” he said. “Then, she ran so well. She ran one of the best races of her career.”

A former $17,500 claimer, Reba Is Tops won 4 of her last 5 starts, including two minor stakes.

“You can’t replace horses like that in your barn,” he said.