07/04/2012 2:55PM

Belmont Park: Smith to ride Mucho Macho Man in Suburban

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mucho Macho Man will be ridden by Mike Smith in Saturday’s Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – With Ramon Dominguez opting to ride Trickmeister, Mucho Macho Man will have Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith on his back when he returns to the races off a two-month layoff in Saturday’s Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park.

Dominguez had ridden Mucho Macho Man in his last five starts – beginning with the 2011 Belmont Stakes – but has elected to ride Trickmeister for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. for whom he rides frequently.

Kathy Ritvo, trainer of Mucho Macho Man, said that she understood that Dominguez and his agent Steve Rushing made a “business decision” to ride Trickmeister, who has won 6 of 7 overall starts.

“We got the best rider that would fit him,” Ritvo said of Smith, who won the 1994 Suburban on Devil His Due and the 1996 Suburban on Wekiva Springs. “We think he’s a great rider. I think he’ll give the horse a lot of confidence, and the horse will give him a lot of confidence.”

Mucho Macho Man will break from post 7 in the Suburban, run as a one-turn, 1 1/8-mile race that will go as race 9 on a 10-race card.

The Suburban drew a strong eight-horse field, including Grade 1 winners To Honor and Serve – the probable favorite – 2011 Travers winner Stay Thirsty, and Donn Handicap winner and 2011 Suburban runner-up Hymn Book as well as graded winners Caixa Eletronica and Endorsement. Caixa Eletronica is an 18-time winner who took the Grade 2 True North on Belmont Stakes Day last time out.

Caixa Eletronica, who is coupled with Stay Thirsty, is not definite to run, said Todd Pletcher, who trains both horses for owner Mike Repole. Pletcher wanted to evaluate the field before deciding to run or scratch Caixa Eletronica.

Mucho Macho Man had a three-race winning streak snapped when he was third, beaten seven lengths by Successful Dan, in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 4.

Prior to that, Mucho Macho Man won three straight, including the Sunshine Millions Classic over Ron the Greek – who subsequently won the Santa Anita Handicap and Stephen Foster Handicap – and the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

“He belongs in the race, I think he’s going to run a great race,” Ritvo said.

Mucho Macho Man is not the only horse in the field with a new rider. Hymn Book, second in the Suburban a year ago, will be ridden by Alan Garcia, who replaces the injured John Velazquez, the gelding’s regular rider. Garcia rode Hymn Book to a second-place finish behind To Honor and Serve in last year’s Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.

To Honor and Serve comes off a third-place finish as the 8-5 favorite in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap last out. He had the rail that day, a position that trainer Bill Mott thought might have compromised his colt’s chances. Saturday, he will break from post 8 under Jose Lezcano.

Trickmeister and Stay Thirsty ran one-two in the Vanlandingham Stakes here in May. Trickmeister went gate to wire that day, but will likely face some pace pressure Saturday from either Endorsement, who drew the rail, or Buffum, who breaks from post 4.

John Popovich More than 1 year ago
LOOK OUT FOR BUFFUM AN AGAVE A KISS BUFFUM WILL GIVE TO HONOR AN SERVE AN RUN IN THE SUBURBAN PLETCHER GOT A SHOT TOO WITH CALIXA ELECTRONICA THAT HORES AGAVE KISS IS A NICE HORSE AS WELL BOTHE RACES WILL BE PURE CLASS RACES AS USUAL BECAUSE LETS FACE IT THE BEST HORSES IN THE USA ARE AT BELMONT AT THIS TIME OF YEAR THE LOOK OUT FOR THE GRANDADY SARATOGA ISNT SARATOGA JUST THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TRACK NOT TAKEING AWAY FROM BIG SANDY BUT TOGA IS BEAUTIFUL WHIS THEY WOULD RUN UNTILL AT LEAST TILL OCTOBER I IMAGINE HAVEING BREEDERS CUP A SARATOGA WAKE UP NYRA AN THE JOCKRY CLUB AN LOBBY FOR A SPECIAL MEET SO SARTOGA CAN HOST A BREEDERS CUP SARATOGA DESERVES IT YOU HEARD IT FIRST FROM ME
Erica More than 1 year ago
Good call Ritvo. Love to see the switch to Smith. MMM sitting on a big year and now gets jockey with most BC wins.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Apparently Dominguez picked Trickmeister over MMM. MMM is a G3 talent. I don't know why the connection still hasn't realized it yet. He could win a G2 if it's set up perfectly for him like the perfect trip that he received in the Gulfstream Park Handicap in a 4 horse field. This year's Suburban has drawn a G1 field, MMM won't even hit the superfecta.
Ronnie Malo Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
I saw the vandlandingham when Trickmeister beat Stay Thirsty and Arthurs Tale, Arthurs tale came back and ran poorly, the pimlico special looks like a better race these guys where comming out ot. and I'm taking a shot on Endorsement. Loved this horse ever since his 3 year old campaign looking like a Derby horse before he got hurt. Mucho Macho Man was my Derby pick last year, horefully he'll run better against these. Endorsement Trickmeister Mucho Macho Man Speed has been holding up at my home track GO Endorsement!
geno More than 1 year ago
M3!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm so thankful for this race. It will be a good one. This GII is way better than the GI Hollywood Gold Cup. If Churchill would move the Stephen Foster up 2 weeks this race could have a few more good horses. With only 3 weeks in between most trainers will only go in one or the other, although Flat Out won last year coming from the Foster. It would be nice if tracks worked together in scheduling big races.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
At least in the Hollywood Gold Cup they are running 10 furlongs. If the Suburban was run at 10 furlongs, like it used to be, you think we would see To Honor and Serve, Endorsement, Caixa Electronica, Buffum, Tirckmeister, or even Mucho Macho Man? So, while the Suburban field is better than the Hollywood Gold Cup field, top to bottom, how much will the one-turn 9 furlong Suburban really tell us about the two-turn 10 furlong Breeder's Cup Classic? For all those lamenting how few North American thoroughbreds can run classic distances, take a long look at NYRA and its scheduling of stakes for older horses. With the 12 furlong Brooklyn now a third tier race, there's not a single major handicap race back East run at 10 furlongs until the Jockey Club Gold Cup. And there's none after the JCGC. At least in California there are 3 grade 1 races for older males run at 10 furlongs. The Hollywood Gold Cup was open to horses based back East. If the field looked so poor, why didn't even one of the horses in the Suburban ship West to give it a shot? Well, first, like I mentioned above, I don't think the majority of horses in the Suburban really want 10 furlongs. And second, they probably didn't want 10 furlongs against Game on Dude.
MJP More than 1 year ago
Good point Jordan. As recently as the mid-90s you had Cigar and Skip Away slugging it out all the way around the track in a 12f Gold Cup. And the Suburban was a solid 10f test. Most of this "stellar" field would be looking for a place to lie down at the furlong pole if this race hadn't been shortened to suit the Storm Cat breeding wusses who have poisoned the sport.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Excellent point. Where is Dullahan? The Hollywood Gold Cup fits him better than the Haskell. If Richard's Kid is weighted at 120 and Papaw Bodie is at 118, then Dullahan should be 119 minus 5 pounds weight break for 3yo's, he'll get in at 114, 10 pounds less than GoD equivalent to about 6-7 lengths for a 10f race.
Justin Stygles More than 1 year ago
Mike Smith is setting up for a few returns to Saratoga this summer. Boy, wont it be nice to see him back east!
Booby More than 1 year ago
Just another case of the 'old boys network'. Not good at a time when the sport desperately needs new stars and new ways of thinking.
Maria Kern More than 1 year ago
Looking forward to see Stay Thirsty run. I hope he wins.
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Wonder what kind of price Stay Thirsty will be.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
I think 3-1. Being coupled with Caixa Electronica, the coupled entry will especially get hammered in the place and show pools.