Mucho Macho Man rolls in Gulfstream Park Handicap, Blood-Horse

Mucho Macho Man continued to establish himself as a serious player in the older horse division Saturday, posting a convincing victory in the Grade 2, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap. A smart winner of the 1 1/8-mile Sunshine Millions Classic January 28, the leggy bay colt cut back powerfully to a one-turn mile while extending his win streak to three. Ramon Dominguez was up for trainer Kathy Ritvo.One of only three horses to contest all three legs of the 2011 Triple Crown, Mucho Macho Man is developing into a much more imposing runner at age four. And that’s not surprising considering his late foaling date (June 15). Third in the Kentucky Derby, he finished sixth in the Preakness and was freshened five months following a seventh in the Belmont Stakes, winning an allowance/optional claiming event at Aqueduct November 9. In the aforementioned Sunshine Millions Classic, Mucho Macho Man garnered a career-best 108 BRIS Speed rating and was flattered when runner-up Ron the Greek came back to win the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap last Saturday.

He’s just been so impressive,” Dominguez said. “He’s run so well going both one turn and two turns, I can’t really tell if he’s better on one than the other. He’s just on a roll right now.”

In the Gulfstream Park Handicap, Mucho Macho Man broke fourth but had advanced to second, only a half-length back of pacesetter Tackleberry, after the opening half-mile. Tackleberry, who was making a title defense off a 285-day layoff Saturday, continued to show the way through the far turn but proved no match when challenged in upper stretch.

Dominguez confidently kept his mount well off the rail throughout and Mucho Macho Man easily edged away from his rival after passing the three-quarters mark in 1:09 4/5 with a narrow advantage. The final margin was two lengths as he completed the mile in 1:35 2/5 over the fast track.

Favored at 3-5 among five rivals, Mucho Macho Man returned a $3.40 win payoff to his many supporters. Tackleberry was off as the 5-1 third choice and held second by a half-length over the 7-5 Jackson Bend. Cajun Breeze and Clean Shot rounded out the order of finish. Soaring Stocks was scratched.Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Racing Stable, Mucho Macho Man has now earned $1,063,643 from a 14-5-3-3 record. He was bred in Florida by John D. and Carole A. Rio.

Runner-up in both the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes and Grade 2 Nashua Stakes as a two-year-old, Mucho Macho Man opened his sophomore season with a fourth in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes and then broke through with his first stakes victory, capturing the Grade 2 Risen Star by 1 1/2 lengths. He recorded a close third in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby after throwing a shoe at the start and was sent off as the 9-1 fourth choice among 19 contestants in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

The son of Macho Uno is out of a stakes-winning Ponche mare Ponche de Leona. Tracing the female line further back, this is the family of multiple Grade 2-winning millionaire Guided Tour, multiple Grade 2 heroine Possible Mate and Grade 1 queen Dream Empress.

Ritvo was not willing to commit concerning Mucho Macho Man’s next start.

“I love my horse and I’m going to take care of him the best we can,” Ritvo said. “I want to do exactly what’s right for him. He’ll tell us where to go. I’m going to see how he comes back, what kind of timing we have.”


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