02/15/2014 11:27AM

Gulfstream Park: Mucho Macho Man will skip World Cup and point to Santa Anita Handicap

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Tom Keyser
Mucho Macho Man worked a sharp five furlongs at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The connections of Mucho Macho Man said Saturday that the reigning Breeders’ Cup Classic champion will return to the scene of his finest hour to make his next start in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap on March 8.

The announcement that Mucho Macho Man would decline an invitation to compete in the $10 million Dubai World Cup and instead go back to Santa Anita came several hours after Mucho Macho Man turned in a sensational 58.16-second work at Gulfstream Park that morning.

“We thought long and hard about where to run him next,” said trainer Kathy Ritvo. “He’s ready to run and we’ve got to do what we think is best for the horse. We already know he likes Santa Anita and we’re looking forward to going back there again.”

Aside from his nose victory in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic over Will Take Charge, Mucho Macho Man also won the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita last October and finished second behind Fort Larned there in the 2012 BC Classic.

Ritvo was extremely pleased with Mucho Macho Man’s five-furlong work on Saturday, which came in company with stablemate Billboard Babe. Breaking off a half-length behind and outside his target, Mucho Macho Man posted splits of 23.05 and 34.34 for the opening three-eighths before drawing well clear of his partner. He completed his final quarter in 23.78 while in hand before galloping out six furlongs in an eye-catching 1:10.77 over an extremely fast track, but one which had been cut up quite a bit by the time he worked just prior to the first renovation break.

“We know the track is very fast but it’s the way he did it that matters and he couldn’t have done it any easier,” said Ritvo.

The work was the second since Mucho Macho Man registered an easy-as-can-be 14-length victory while making his 2014 debut in the Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 18. Ritvo said she’ll work Mucho Macho Man again next Saturday at Gulfstream before pulling him on a flight to Santa Anita the following day.

As for declining an opportunity to run for $10 million in Dubai, Finn Green, stable agent for Mucho Macho Man’s owners Dean and Patti Reeves, said “the people in Dubai were very professional and helpful but we informed them on Friday that after examining our options, we felt it was in the horse’s best interests to go to Santa Anita.

Green said the Reeves’ have received numerous offers to sell Mucho Macho Man but as of Saturday, no deal had been made.