03/07/2012 4:43PM

Gulfstream: Mucho Macho Man tops small but select field for Gulfstream Park Handicap

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mucho Macho Man will face five rivals in Saturday's Gulfstream Park Handicap.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Mucho Macho Man looked a picture of health parading around the paddock between races here at Gulfstream Park on Wednesday, just minutes before his name was pulled out of the box along with only five others for Saturday’s Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

Mucho Macho Man will face a small but select field that also includes Jackson Bend, troubled winner of the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope earlier this winter, and defending Gulfstream Park Handicap champion Tackleberry, who makes his first start since the Met Mile nearly 10 months ago. Soaring Stocks was a surprise, last-minute entry from trainer Todd Pletcher. Cajun Breeze and Clean Shot round out the field.

Mucho Macho Man launched his 2012 campaign with an impressive victory over Ron the Greek in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic, a performance that gained added luster last weekend when Ron the Greek returned to capture the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. Mucho Macho Man will be turning back to a mile for the Gulfstream Park Handicap, a distance he has already handled nicely in the past.

Jackson Bend recovered after bobbling at the break to rally to a one-length victory going a mile in the Hal’s Hope while making his first start since finishing third as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He will carry top weight of 122 pounds in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, two more than Mucho Macho Man and three higher than Tackleberry.

“He’s got a big heart, he always shows up, and he’s doing well,” trainer Nick Zito said of Jackson Bend.

In contrast to the Gulfstream Park Handicap, Saturday’s Grade 3 Swale lured a field of 10 3-year-olds, led by Ever So Lucky and Motor City. One horse conspicuous by his absence when entries were drawn was the undefeated Thunder Moccasin, who was expected to wheel back in the Swale off an impressive victory earlier this winter in the Grade 2 Hutcheson.

“We just ran out of time trying to get him back to the race,” said Pletcher. “It was just a little close. The Bay Shore fits our program better.”

The Grade 3 Bay Shore will be run April 7 at Aqueduct.

Ever So Lucky has not started since finishing second behind the undefeated Gemologist in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. He was slated to launch his 3-year-old campaign in the Hutcheson but was scratched the morning of the race by trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

Motor City will also be making his 3-year-old debut in the Swale, having been idle since winning the Grade 3 Iroquois on Oct. 30 at Churchill Downs.

Trainer Dale Romans entered a pair, Seve and Quick Wit, for the Swale, but said he’s uncertain if either would start.

“With Thunder Moccasin not running it doesn’t look like there’s anybody too tough in there,” said Romans. “Both my horses are doing well but I’ll look over the field before deciding whether to run.”

Quick Wit, Trinniberg, Silver Menace, Hello Prince, Bahamian Squall, Musical Flair, and Good Morning Diva complete the field.

Gulfstream Park H. (G2), Post Time: 4:35 ET Saturday

Purse: $300,000; 1 mile

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Mucho Macho Man

K. Ritvo

R. Dominguez

8-5

1

Tackleberry

L. Olivares

R. Maragh

4-1

1

Cajun Breeze

M. Yates

J. Leyva

6-1

1

Soaring Stocks

T. Pletcher

J. Bravo

5-1

1

Clean Shot

D. Chaparro

L. Saez

20-1

1

Jackson Bend

N. Zito

J. Velasquez

2-1

 

Steve Reed More than 1 year ago
In response to David Huberman, the answer is $180,000 to the winner. Go where the money is and you where you can win. Time will prove this is Mucho's distance as is with Jackson Bend
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Oh yeah, Ramon Dominguez doesnt hurt MMM's chances either.
David Huberman More than 1 year ago
Kathy Ritvo, why are you entering your Classic distance horse -- who's in the middle of his form cycle -- into an 8F race for older milers?
telfe23 More than 1 year ago
Nice point... She has no idea
Daniel DiPrinzio More than 1 year ago
I agree, I like the horse, not nearly as sold on the conditioner
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
I dont think Ritvo is one bit of a formidable trainer but here is my case for MMM. He drew the rail at GP, has been good in the morning and has 2 horses that can pose any threat. Tackleberry may not be fit enough coming off the layoff and Jackson Bend drew the outer post. Dont get too hung up on that 112 he fired in the Kelso. Uncle Mo had EVERYTHING to do with that figure hitting the form. It is funny that MMM is her ONLY claim to fame. He has given her her solo win for 2012 and accounted for 2 of her 5 wins in 2011 out of 105 mounts.