10/20/2012 3:27PM

Breeders' Cup Clocker Report: Mucho Macho Man sharp in five-furlong work over wet track

Tom Keyser
Mucho Macho Man appears to be coming into the Breeders' Cup in top form for trainer Kathy Ritvo.

ELMONT, N.Y. – With the main track virtually under water and the training track rated as “muddy” when first opening at 5:30 a.m., workout activity Saturday at Belmont Park was limited to little more than a dozen horses.

Several potential Breeders’ Cup starters had scheduled workouts postponed as a result of the soggy conditions. But with the training track eventually being upgraded to “good” upon being harrowed following the second revovation break, trainer Kathy Ritvo saw little reason not to let her BC Classic contender Mucho Macho Man keep to his regular work routine. And the Suburban winner responded with a very strong move, indicating he continues to maintain the form that propelled him to a runaway victory in the Grade 2 Suburban and a close and troubled second-place finish behind To Honor and Serve in the Grade 1 Woodward in his last two starts.

Mucho Macho Man (five furlongs in 59.42 seconds): With regular exercise rider Nick Petro Jr. aboard, Mucho Macho Man broke off a couple of lengths behind stablemate Skinny Peter and relaxed nicely through an opening furlong in a leisurely 13.29 seconds. Mucho Macho Man picked up the pace noticeably once settling into the turn, readily overtaking his target with an 11.02 split from the half-mile to three-eighths pole. Kept out in the middle of the track by Petro down the stretch, Mucho Macho Man steadily widened his advantage while never being asked, completing his final quarter in 23.58 before galloping out six furlongs wide into the turn in 1:13.33.

[BREEDERS' CUP WORKOUTS: Full DRF coverage, Mike Welsch video reports]

Considering the nature of the racetrack, which still had a good deal of moisture in it at the time, this was a very solid work. After beginning with a slow opening eighth-mile, Mucho Macho Man came home his final half in 46.13 and did it easily while also showing a lot more affinity for a wet surface than he did when finishing far back in his only start over an off track in the 2011 Belmont Stakes.

“He’s feeling so good I really wanted to work him today if I could,” said Ritvo. “It was a good track for him. He likes a little water on the track. I think he was a little sharper this morning than in his first work here last week and breezing him over a little heavier track like this today should be good for him. He’ll get a little more out of the work. He’s coming up to his race really well.”

Petro, Mucho Macho Man’s regular exercise rider throughout the year, was also excited about the way his horse handled the track on Saturday.

“He went excellent. I couldn’t ask him to do any better,” said Petro. “I think he likes the surface here even better than the training track up at Saratoga, although he seems to handle pretty much anything. I feel like he’s much stronger now than he was back in Florida earlier this year. Maybe twice the horse he was back then. He’s really coming into himself. He used to be like a pony to ride but he’s a tough boy now.”

Ritvo said Mucho Macho Man will have one more five-furlong work over the Belmont training track before shipping to Santa Anita on Oct. 30.

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