Updated on 10/01/2013 9:05AM

Awesome Again Stakes: Mucho Macho Man wins impressively

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Benoit & Associates
Mucho Macho Man and jockey Gary Stevens win the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Mucho Macho Man might not be based in California, but he sure likes it here.

Second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, Mucho Macho Man served notice that he will be formidable in that race again this year with an emphatic, 4 1/4-length victory Saturday in the Grade 1, $250,000 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.

The Awesome Again offers a fees-paid berth to the $5 million BC Classic here Nov. 2 through the Win and You’re In program.

Mucho Macho Man ($5.20) was favored in the 10-horse field and ran like he should have been odds-on. Kept wide and in the clear by jockey Gary Stevens after breaking from the outside post, the long-striding horse made a powerful, four-wide move on the far turn and kicked clear turning into the lane, putting daylight between himself and his rivals.

Paynter, fanned at least six paths wide into the lane, courageously rallied for second, 2 1/4 lengths in front of the former claimer Soi Phet. Golden Ticket was fourth.

Mucho Macho Man completed 1 1/8 miles on the fast main track in 1:48.30. He has won seven times in 22 starts.

Kathy Ritvo, who trains Mucho Macho Man for Dean Reeves’s Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, said Mucho Macho Man would remain here for the next five weeks to prepare for the Classic.

“He seems to thrive here,” Ritvo said.

The win was the first for Mucho Macho Man in four starts this year and his first since the Suburban in July 2012 at Belmont Park. Significantly, though, this was his first Grade 1 after several near misses, including last year’s BC Classic and Woodward.

Mucho Macho Man most recently was third in the Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 3. A start in the Woodward four weeks later was scrapped because of an off track that day. Rather than remaining in New York for the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the horse was shipped west during the second week of September.

“We wanted a dry track, and there was a better chance of getting a dry track here,” Ritvo said.