03/30/2012 2:20PM

Gulfstream: Mucho Macho Man will go to Churchill for Alysheba

Bob Coglianese
Mucho Macho Man, with Ramon Dominguez up, wins the Gulfstream Park Handicap.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Mucho Macho Man has become one of the elite members of the handicap division following impressive victories here at Gulfstream Park this winter in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic – in which he defeated the subsequent Santa Anita Handicap winner, Ron the Greek – and the Gulfstream Park Handicap. And as such, a horse other members of the division may look to avoid whenever feasible as the season continues to unfold.

Mucho Macho Man’s connections have spent the three weeks since the Gulfstream Park Handicap contemplating their options, which included, among other races, the prestigious Met Mile. On Friday, trainer Kathy Ritvo finally announced the choice for Mucho Macho Man’s next start. It will come on the Kentucky Derby undercard in the Grade 2 Alysheba.

“When we set out last fall to draft a plan for Mucho Macho Man’s 2012 campaign, the Alysheba was always our first option and the Met Mile the second if everything went well down here this winter,” said Ritvo. “The main focus of our plan was to try to manage the horse as best we could with our first thought to do what’s right for him.”

Ritvo said the long-term goal for Mucho Macho Man this season would be to make the Breeders’ Cup, although which Breeders’ Cup race they will ultimately pick to compete in, the Classic or the Mile, has yet to be determined.

“The Alysheba fits him in the progression. He’ll be going from a mile to a mile and one sixteenth, and the timing is perfect,” said Ritvo. “We also know he loves the racetrack at Churchill Downs.”

Mucho Macho Man has started once at Churchill Downs, finishing third in the 2011 Kentucky Derby.

Ritvo said she plans to work Mucho Macho Man, who has spent the entire winter at Gulfstream Park, once more locally before shipping to Kentucky later next week.

“Depending upon the weather and racetrack, we’ll do a little something with him next week before he ships,” said Ritvo. “I wanted to get him to Kentucky early enough to get acclimated to the weather, since it’s going to be a lot cooler in Kentucky than it’s been here in Florida.”

Ritvo, who has already gotten a commitment from Mucho Macho Man’s regular rider, Ramon Dominguez, for the Alysheba, said she also plans to bring Silver Menace, fourth in the Grade 2 Swale on March 10, to Churchill Downs.

“At this point we have not picked out a race for Silver Menace,” said Ritvo.