03/10/2012 6:44PM

Gulfstream Park: Mucho Macho Man handles cutback in Gulfstream Park Handicap

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Courtney Stafford
Mucho Macho Man wins the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap by two lengths over Tackleberry.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Mucho Macho Man put both his abundant talent and versatility on full display Saturday when turning back to a mile to easily defeat a small but select field that included defending champ Tackleberry and Jackson Bend in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

Mucho Macho Man was coming off a similarly impressive victory over Santa Anita Handicap winner Ron the Greek going 1 1/8 miles in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic earlier this winter. But despite shortening in distance, jockey Ramon Dominguez was able to ease Mucho Macho Man right up with the early pace of Tackleberry a quarter-mile into the race. 

Mucho Macho Man stalked Tackleberry through modest fractions for six furlongs, assumed control leaving the quarter pole, and then gradually asserted his superiority, reaching the wire a comfortable two lengths in front.

Tackleberry, making his first start since the 2011 Met Mile, held on gamely once relinquishing the lead to finish second, a half-length before Jackson Bend who bobbled a couple of times after the break to compromise his best chance.

Cajun Breeze and Clean Shot completed the order of finish. Soaring Stocks was scratched to run in an allowance race Sunday.
The Gulfstream Park Handicap gave Mucho Macho Man his second Grade 2 victory. He also won the Risen Star at 3. A son of Macho Uno, Mucho Macho Man is owned in partnership by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One. He completed the distance in 1:35.50 over a fast track and paid $3.40.

“I don’t give Ramon any instructions, he rides the horse himself,” trainer Kathy Ritvo said. “And he came back and said the horse ran great. At this point, I don’t think distance matters to him. It may sound like I’m a little confident, but from a mile to anything, it doesn’t really matter.”

Ritvo said she will confer with the owners before making any decision as to where or when Mucho Macho Man will run next.

Owner-trainer Luis Olivares was delighted with Tackleberry’s performance, even in defeat.

“He ran a monster race, a monster race, I’m very proud of him,” Olivares said. “He came back, he never quit.”

Trainer Nick Zito said Jackson Bend’s chances were compromised right from the start.

“Things didn’t work out,” Zito said. “He stumbled out of the gate, twice. Johnny [Velazquez] had to make an early move, but he still dug in.”