12/31/2015 1:02PM

Fellowship will be rolling in stretch of Mucho Macho Man

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Kenny Martin/Coglianese Photos
Fellowship won the In Reality Stakes with a powerful stretch run, and he will try to do it again in the Mucho Macho Man on Saturday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – In a perfect world for trainer Stanley Gold, Saturday’s Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park would be a little longer in distance and decided around two turns instead of one. But that doesn’t temper his enthusiasm for his steadily improving Fellowship, who figures to be one of the choices in a modest field of seven 3-year-olds in the one-mile Mucho Macho Man, the first of three prep races for the $1 million Florida Derby on April 2.

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The $100,000 Mucho Macho Man is one of five stakes, all for 3-year-olds, here Saturday, including a trio of Grade 3 races – the Hutcheson, Old Hat, and Dania Beach – along with the Ginger Brew.

Fellowship woke up late in his 2-year-old campaign with the addition of blinkers and as the distances got longer. He went from last to first Oct. 3 here in the 1 1/16-mile In Reality, the final leg of the Florida Sire Series, winning by 4 1/2 lengths. Then he shipped across town to Gulfstream West and finished second in both the Juvenile Sprint and the Smooth Air, which, like the Mucho Macho Man, was at a mile but around two turns.

“I’d actually prefer a bigger field with a more honest pace as well as more distance and two turns for him, but it is what it is,” said Gold. “I’m actually surprised the field came up as small as it did, but the very best are still on R-and-R and taking their time coming back. It’s going to get a lot tougher. What gives you hope is that he runs late. There is room for optimism with a 3-year-old like that, so we’ll see how he does, and if he runs well, the next one is the Holy Bull.”

Fellowship likely will vie for favoritism in the Mucho Macho Man with Awesome Speed, the only other stakes winner in the field. Awesome Speed stretches out off a three-quarter-length victory in Laurel’s six-furlong James F. Lewis III Stakes on Nov. 14. The win was the second in three starts for Awesome Speed, a son of Awesome Again who figures to contest the early pace along with Aggressive Driver and Golden Ray.

El Charro, Bullet Gone Astray, and Picadilly Roadster complete the field.

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key CONTENDERS

Fellowship (Last 3 Beyers: 70-64-71)

◗ He ran a solid second to Rafting in the Smooth Air, and Gold said Fellowship had little excuse. “I think he just got beat by a better horse on that day,” said Gold. “But he’s growing, he looks good, I like the way he’s coming around, and he’s consistently improving.”

Awesome Speed (Last 3 Beyers: 87-72-31)

◗ Trainer Alan Goldberg is optimistic that Awesome Speed will handle the added distance on Saturday. “We’ll keep him around one turn and see how he gets a mile and go from there,” said Goldberg. “He’s not a big old heavy horse. He has a pretty long stride, so we’re hopeful.”

Golden Ray (Last 3 Beyers: 67-66-55)

◗ The only three-time winner in the field, he outran his odds in winning an entry-level allowance on the lead off a soft opening quarter-mile. He is not likely to see the lead as readily in this spot.