01/20/2013 1:27PM

Gulfstream Park: Mucho Macho Man appears fine after being eased in Sunshine Millions Classic

Tom Keyser
Jockey Mike Smith eases Mucho Macho Man, the odds-on favorite in the Sunshine Millions Classic. Trainer Kathy Ritvo says she suspects the horse simply did not like the sloppy track.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.- Trainer Kathy Ritvo said Mucho Macho Man seemed none the worse for wear on Sunday morning after being eased by jockey Mike Smith the previous afternoon as the odd- on favorite in the Sunshine Millions Classic.

Smith said immediately after the race that Mucho Macho Man kept putting his head higher and higher while racing around the second turn and guaranteed something was wrong inside. But Ritvo and stable manager Finn Green said they could find nothing wrong with Mucho Macho Man once going over their horse back at the barn after the race.

“The horse is doing really well this morning,” said Ritvo. “There are no physical issues whatsoever. The horse just didn’t like the track. We think the surface just bothered him. We cannot find any other reason for what happened.”  

Both Ritvo and Green said the horse vetted out perfectly after the race.

“We’re not even going to do a fine tooth comb on him,” said Green. “He’s doing fine.”

Ritvo said Mucho Macho Man would likely go back to the track to train on Monday and a decision would be made later this week as to when and where he might run next.

Mucho Macho Man raced in blinkers for the first time in nearly a year in the Classic but both Ritvo and Green agreed that had nothing to do with his performance on Saturday.

“Mike said he thought the horse might have had a breathing problem and we’re fine with the choice he made to ease the horse like he did,” said Ritvo. “I could see he was jogging okay when he came back and the good news is everything seems to be okay and we’ll just move on from here. It’s a long year.”

Ron the Greek rallied  from off a fast pace to an easy and very impressive 11 ¼-length victory, avenging his second-place finish at the hands of Mucho Macho Man in the 2012 Sunshine Classic. Ron the Greek received a career-best 115 Beyer Speed Figure for his performance and will now likely head back to California for a defense of his title in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap later this winter.