03/02/2012 2:35PM

Gulfstream Park: Mucho Macho Man drills for Gulfstream Park Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
Mucho Macho Man will make his next start in the Gulfstream Park Handicap.

Mucho Macho Man had his final major tune-up for next Saturday’s Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap when working five furlongs from the half-mile to mile pole in 58.80 seconds early Friday morning. Mucho Macho Man, winner of the Sunshine Millions Classic to launch his 4-year-old season, posted splits of 23.80 and 46.60 for his opening quarter and half.

“He’s doing great, he couldn’t be coming up to the race any better,” trainer Kathy Ritvo said.

A small field is expected for the Gulfstream Park Handicap. Along with Mucho Macho Man, the only other confirmed starters as of Friday, according to stakes coordinator Kevin Meyocks, were Jackson Bend and defending champion Tackleberry. Boys At Tosconova remains a possibility, pending his next work.

“Rick said he wasn’t entirely pleased with Boys At Tosconova’s work yesterday, so he wants to breeze him back again and see how he goes before making a decision,” Meyocks said, referring to trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.

Another potential Gulfstream Park Handicap starter is the lightly raced Cajun Breeze, runner-up in the Florida Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 28. Cajun Breeze worked six furlongs in 1:14.80 at Calder on Thursday, and trainer Michael Yates said Friday he was still considering the race.

Two of trainer Todd Pletcher’s four nominees to the Gulfstream Park Handicap, Soaring Stocks and Travelin Man, both breezed a half-mile in 47.22 at Palm Meadows on Friday.

Soaring Stocks defeated Cajun Breeze in the Sunshine Millions Sprint. Travelin Man returned from a six-month hiatus to win a money-conditioned allowance race going six furlongs here Feb. 9.

◗ The Gulfstream Park Handicap will share top billing on Saturday’s card along with the Grade 2 Swale for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs. The presence of the undefeated Thunder Mocassin, easy winner of the Grade 2 Hutcheson earlier this winter, also figures to keep the field for the Swale to a minimum. Meyocks said prospective starters include Bahgamian Squall, Good Morning Diva, Musical Flair, Silver Menace, and Trinniberg, with Ever So Lucky remaining a question mark.

Silver Menace tuned up his speed for the Swale, zipping a bullet half-mile in 47 seconds here Friday for Ritvo.

◗ Florida Owners Awards will be increased 25 percent, beginning with next Wednesday’s program. Purses had been increased 15 percent over the weekend.

“Our racing program is robust and continues to improve,” Gulfstream Park president and general manager Tim Ritvo said. “We’re very happy to share our success with the horsemen.”