09/16/2013 6:33PM

Breeders' Cup Classic: Ritvo keeping it dry for Mucho Macho Man

Barbara D. Livingston
Mucho Macho Man prefers dry to wet surfaces. He was scratched out of the Aug. 31 Woodward at Saratoga because the track came up sloppy.

Rain is a rarity this time of year in Southern California, and that’s why Mucho Macho Man will spend the autumn at Santa Anita preparing for his second start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

In a week with little activity on the Classic front, Mucho Macho Man at least bumped the needle slightly when he showed up on the Santa Anita work tab Sept. 14. And this was no mere mild maintenance move, at least in terms of time: Mucho Macho Man went five furlongs in 59.20 seconds, the fastest of 58 five-eighths Santa Anita works this past Saturday.

Mucho Macho Man had worked five furlongs just one week earlier over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga. A breeze so soon after shipping suggests -- accurately, according to trainer Kathy Ritvo -- that Mucho Macho Man traveled well and settled in smoothly on his second trip from the East Coast to Southern California.

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“He shipped great, worked super on Saturday, and he’s doing well here,” Ritvo said. “He really seems to like this track.”

Mucho Macho Man ran the best race of his career in his lone previous Santa Anita start, finishing second by a half-length to Fort Larned in the 2012 Classic. Mucho Macho Man does not abide sloppy tracks, and was scratched from the Aug. 31 Woodward Stakes when the Saratoga surface came up wet. His connections hope traditional weather patterns hold, and that Mucho Macho Man can make his projected next start in the Sept. 28 Awesome Again Stakes on a dry racetrack.

While Mucho Macho Man will face decent competition in the Awesome Again, that race should be nowhere near as deep as the field Mucho Macho Man would have met had he remained on the East Coast and pointed for the Jockey Club Gold Cup, also on Sept. 28. The Jockey Club Gold Cup is coming up loaded, with Alpha, Cross Traffic, Flat Out, Orb, and Palace Malice all considered probable starters.

** Trainer Ian Wilkes said Tuesday that Fort Larned would make his final Breeders' Cup prep in the $175,000 Homecoming Classic at Churchill Downs on Sept. 28.