02/17/2012 2:04PM

Gulfstream: Mucho Macho Man tunes up for Gulfstream Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
Mucho Macho Man, winner of last month's Sunshine Millions Classic, will make his next start in the March 10 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Mucho Macho Man has been one of the most popular horses stabled at Gulfstream Park over the past two seasons and his legion of fans will get one more chance to watch him compete here this winter in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 10.

Trainer Kathy Ritvo confirmed the one-mile Gulfstream Handicap will be next for Mucho Macho Man shortly after he breezed an easy half-mile in 48.36 seconds and galloping out five-eighths in 1:02.42 here early Friday morning. Mucho Macho Man was working for the first time since opening his 4-year-old season with an impressive victory in the nine -furlong Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 28.

“Finn Green, racing manager for Reeves Thoroughbreds, and I sat down last fall and mapped out a plan for this season, which began with Mucho Macho Man making two starts down here this winter, in the Sunshine Millions and the Gulfstream Park Handicap, and we’re sticking to that plan,” said Ritvo. “I see no problem with him going back to a mile. He’s won at a mile before and he’s gotten so relaxed now, he can do just about anything we ask of him.”

Ritvo said she plans to give Mucho Macho Man a little stiffer work next week.

“This morning I just wanted him to go easily since it was his first work since the Sunshine Millions,” said Ritvo. “I’ll ask him to do a little more next time.”

Gulf Handicap better option for Tackleberry

One horse who might match Mucho Macho Man in popularity is Tackleberry, who is expected to launch his comeback in defense of his title in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. Tackleberry, based at Calder with owner-trainer Luis Olivares, has not started since last May, when he finished ninth after setting the early pace in the Grade 1 Met Mile.

Olivares flirted with the idea of bringing Tackleberry back this weekend in the seven-furlong Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship, a race Tackleberry also won a year ago, but said he needed a little more time to have the gelding properly prepared off the layoff.

“He’s only been back here at the track for a month and he was just not ready for the Sprint,” said Olivares. “I just backed off him last spring and gave him some time after the race in New York and then he got a little sick when he was originally ready to come back from the farm in Ocala earlier this winter.”

Tackleberry, who also won the Sunshine Millions Classic here in 2011, was scheduled to work between races on Saturday.

In addition to Mucho Macho Man and Tackleberry, the Gulfstream Park Handicap is also expected to attract Jackson Bend, winner of the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope earlier in the meet, and Boys At Tosconova.