12/21/2012 4:17PM

Gulfstream Park: Mucho Macho Man to kick off 2013 campaign in Sunshine Millions Classic

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mucho Macho Man will go for an elusive Grade 1 win after he runs in the Sunshine Millions.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Mucho Macho Man, who ran the race of his life only to come out second best behind Fort Larned in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, will open his 2013 campaign the same way he began 2012, in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park.

Trainer Kathy Ritvo announced the decision to open the year in the Sunshine Millions Classic along with Finn Green, stable manager for the horse’s owner, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing. Mucho Macho Man’s second option would have been to start the season in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap. The Sunshine Millions Classic will be run on Jan. 19, the Donn three weeks later on Feb. 9.

“The Sunshine Millions is a fantastic race to come back in,” said Ritvo. “We thought it was the perfect place for him to start.”

Mucho Macho Man posted a 1 1/2-length victory over Ron the Greek in the 2012 Sunshine Millions Classic, then came back later in the meet to win the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap. A son of Macho Uno, Mucho Macho Man also won the Grade 2 Suburban and was beaten a neck by To Honor and Serve in the Grade 1 Woodward prior to his huge performance on Breeders’ Cup Day, for which he received a career-best 116 Beyer Speed Figure.

“He’s done great,” said Ritvo. “He’s come out of the Classic really well and shown us all the right signs since coming back here. He’s put on weight, he’s grown, and he loves it at Gulfstream. He’s very relaxed here.”

Ritvo and Green would not reveal any further plans beyond the Sunshine Millions for Mucho Macho Man, who despite all his accomplishments has never won a Grade 1 race.

“We have a plan but we’re just going to start with this one and take it one race at a time, the same way we did last year,” said Ritvo. “There will be plenty of opportunities to run in Grade 1 races later this year.”

Mucho Macho Man was scheduled to have his first breeze since the Breeders’ Cup here on Saturday morning.

The 2013 Sunshine Millions Classic could wind up a rematch of the 2012 edition, with Mucho Macho Man and Ron the Greek hooking up for a second straight year. Ron the Greek, who finished fourth after an unlucky start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, is in training with Bill Mott at Payson Park, where he worked a bullet half-mile in 48 seconds on Friday.

Unlike Mucho Macho Man, Take Charge Indy will be targeting the Donn for his 2013 bow. The winner of the 2012 Florida Derby, he breezed an easy three-eighths in 36.80 at Palm Meadows on Friday, his first work since finishing a length behind Shackleford in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs Nov. 23.