11/03/2012 9:09PM

Breeders’ Cup Classic: Mucho Macho Man’s connections upbeat after runner-up finish

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mike Smith rode Mucho Macho Man to a second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Mucho Macho Man may have finished second to Fort Larned in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, but he was still a winner in the minds of trainer Kathy Ritvo and jockey Mike Smith.

“Honesty, he [Mucho Macho Man] won, I just didn’t finish first, if that’s possible,” said Smith, who fell a half-length short of sweeping the two main events at the 2012 Breeders’ Cup. Smith won the Ladies’ Classic aboard Royal Delta the previous afternoon.

The Classic capped what has been an outstanding, but at times frustrating, season for Mucho Macho Man and Ritvo who has done a remarkable job maintaining her horse’s form throughout a strategically planned campaign that began in January at Gulfstream Park and also included a similarly game, but heartbreaking, setback at the hands of To Honor and Serve nine weeks earlier at Saratoga in the Grade 1 Woodward.

“I’m not disappointed, because he ran a winning race, he just got beat today,” said Ritvo, who returned to training during winter 2010 after having undergone a heart transplant the previous spring. “I think this was probably the best race he’s ever run. He showed me all week he was going to run a big race. He was nice and relaxed, acclimated perfectly, and was training super. I think he gave us 110 percent. Not only today, but all year.”

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: Saturday results and video replays]

The Classic completed a roller-coaster weekend for Smith and is part of a year in which he finished second in all three legs of the Triple Crown and won his 5,000 career race. He also became the winningest jockey in Breeders’ Cup history after riding Royal Delta to victory on Friday. Smith won his 17th Breeders’ Cup race earlier on Saturday’s card aboard Mizdirection in the Turf Sprint.

“I wanted to win this race for Kathy so bad, more than for myself to be honest with you,” said Smith who picked up the mount on Mucho Macho Man midway through the season.  “The difference today was Fort Larned has a little quicker turn of foot. He kind of sucked away from me on the turn, I couldn’t quite stay with him at that point. I waited for Game On Dude to  push me, kind of like a draft, I thought it was enough to get by him. I just wish I could have had him on my outside a little longer, it might have pushed me by. It just didn’t happen today.”

Smith said that despite narrowly missing in the Classic, the 2012 Breeders’ Cup was a memorable one.

“It was an incredible weekend,” Smith said. “I knew we had some really good horses, and there’s something about Breeders’ Cup. I don’t care if I’m 8-5 or 60-1, something just makes me rise to the occasion.”

Wesley Wright More than 1 year ago
Great Racr by MMM. I had MMM, Flat Out and Game on Dude as my top three. A couple of handicappers picked Fort Larned but with the weights allotted MMM or Flat Out would beat him. That's the way racing goes.
Jeanne Lombardi Pedicini More than 1 year ago
Most handicappers dismissed Mucho Macho Man of even hitting the boards! So close...next year!
Jain Wilson-Silva More than 1 year ago
So nice to read the positive comments here regarding MMM and Mike Smith. I read some posts with negative comments about Mike Smith as MMM's jockey. I thought they ran a great race. I love that horse and his connections and Mike Smith is all class..you could tell he really wanted to win that race for the trainer and the horse and he is always honest with anything he thought he could have done differently.
Kendra Mcallister More than 1 year ago
Mike says it best, i let the other horse get away from me and that's what cost him the race . Mike Smith is all class..
laura ban More than 1 year ago
Total class! Both Mike Smith, Kathy Ritvo and MMM's connections. They have a great attitude, A nice group of horse people.
JoyJackson21 More than 1 year ago
Kathy Ritvo can be very proud of Mucho Macho Man. He runs big races, he runs with heart. He's a fine, talented horse. I admire him. Kathy always has him prepared to do battle, and battle he does. The wins in the big races will definitely come. He was definitely knocking on the door today. There are many spectacular stakes race victories ahead for Mucho Macho Man. Great horse with great heart.
richard montgomery More than 1 year ago
Macho is a big colt. Ft.Larned looked smaller and quicker...Always liked MMM- tough beat
Barry Taylor More than 1 year ago
"I don’t care if I’m 8-5 or 60-1, something just makes me rise to the occasion.” Best money rider in America. 5 Ladies Classics, and in the past 5 Classics..2 wins, 2 seconds, and a third. Money rider.