01/19/2013 7:41PM

Gulfstream Park: Ron the Greek cruises to victory in Sunshine Millions Classic

Barbara D. Livingston
Ron the Greek pulls away to an 11 1/4-length romp in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – What was billed as a two-horse race turned into a one-sided victory for Ron the Greek, who cruised to a decisive 11 1/4-length triumph over Cash Rules in Saturday’s $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic. Mucho Macho Man, the defending champ and 1-5 favorite in the Classic, stopped abruptly after racing forwardly for six furlongs and was ultimately eased to the wire by jockey Mike Smith.

Ron the Greek, who finished second behind Mucho Macho Man in the 2012 edition of the Sunshine Millions Classic, had not started since finishing a distant fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. But he returned fit and ready for a peak performance Saturday.

Racing closer to the pace than even trainer Bill Mott expected, Ron the Greek launched his bid just inside Cash Rules on the second turn, readily pulled away from that rival leaving the quarter pole, and then steadily extended his advantage under jockey Jose Lezcano. Cash Rules was easily second best, finishing two lengths clear of the tiring Fort Loudon.

Mucho Macho Man was carried wide into the opening bend by I’m Steppin Out, prompted a fast pace while remaining well out in the track, and had nothing left midway around the second turn. He was taken in hand by Smith who safely eased him to the wire.

“He was going along fine and then he kept putting his head higher and higher,” Smith said after the race.

Smith said he eased Mucho Macho Man because he stopped trying and he sensed something was wrong. After the race, Smith told trainer Kathy Ritvo “I guarantee it’s something inside.”

Mucho Macho Man appeared to be fine walking off from the track.

Ron the Greek, a 5-year-old son of Full Mandate, is owned by the partnership of the Brous Stable, the Wachtel Stable, and Jack Hammer. He was the only horse to defeat Wise Dan in 2012, beating him by a head in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster.

Ron the Greek ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.19 and returned $8.40.

“He’s run well on a wet track before, however he didn’t run well on a sticky track in the Jockey Club, it was kind of strange,” Mott said. “But he ran well today, he liked this [track], he didn’t mind it. He was a little closer than he normally is, I didn’t expect him to be that close. I thought he might ride him away a little bit and the closest he’d be is 12 lengths. It looked like he was into the bridle and running well, he put him in a drive around the turn, he shook loose, and the rest is history.”

Mott said he’d likely keep Ron the Greek on a similar schedule as last year and send him back to California to defend his title in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap later this winter.

– additional reporting by Jay Privman

Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Albert, you can't be serious to come up with all that. In all fairness you may have missed the followup article the following day. Ritvo said there was absolutely nothing wrong with the horse. In fact he was so good he wasn't going to get the fine tooth comb evaluation. When an odds on horse runs out like that, the trainer would like nothing more than to have an excuse, but she was honest, nothing wrong with him, and I don't think there is a trainer that spends more time with one horse than Ritvo with Macho. As I stated below it simply appeared he didnt' like the footing.
Albert More than 1 year ago
There's a good chance there was something wrong with MMM going into this race....the addition of blinkers to a pressing style horse made no sense. It's possible the trainer felt he was losing focus in his training. It's also possible that the horse was not focused because he was hurting. It looked like Mike Smith looked down to the left and at the back end of the horse halfway through the final turn. Did he feel something go off on that side? Possibly. That doesn't augur well for the horse. We may never see him again at his old level. The blinkers were a warning sign to bettors.
B More than 1 year ago
You'll never see him run on a wet track again.
john p More than 1 year ago
everyone is quick to put the blame on mike smith over mmm,but smith is a great rider . He felt something.MMM is a graded stake horse ,who can stalk at that pace. Smith is a Hall of Fame rider. Half ,if not all of you people making comments about his ride never rode a race or sat on a race horse!!!!
Jeff More than 1 year ago
I cannot believe MMM was chasing :46 and change fractions and expecting to still be around at the finish. The addition of blinkers on an "Off" track makes little sense as well. I'd say the horse bounced badly and that whoever had over $50K on him on the first tick is one sorry person. He performed like a horse who bled thru his Lasix, or; he bounced off the performance of chasing Fort Larned for 1.25 miles in November.
k More than 1 year ago
Bounce off a 2 1/2 month layoff? Just love horse players who think they know so much but really know nothing.
mike puder More than 1 year ago
Smith ( i suspect) is not a rider fond of the off track. I have not bet him in an off track since he did not even try to win the KD with Holy Bull in 1994.
mike puder More than 1 year ago
Congratulations Mr. Mott. I hope RTG continues to move ahead for you and for all of horse racing. I had bet this horse in the BC Classic and this was a great moment for me yesterday. Fantastic training job!
Stephen Taylor More than 1 year ago
someone had pointed out at the local otb that the only other time MMM ran on a sloppy track he ran last. hopfully that's all it was
Kristian O'Reilly More than 1 year ago
Chasing 46 and change wide in the mud has made many a horse stop. MMM will be just fine. Smitty abused him early and pulled him up late. Peace.......
mike puder More than 1 year ago
I'm sure MMM will be back. In all fairness Smith was FORCED out wide in the first turn. But no one was beating RTG yesterday. Mott has reportedly changed his running style and it sure looked like the right move yesterday.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
I thought this would make me captain of the obvious but maybe not. "he kept putting his head higher and higher", then Smith eased Mucho Macho Man when he stopped trying. Smith thought it was "something inside." Sometimes a big long striding colt will not extend himself on a wet track. and it's especially noticable on the turn where Smith eased him. His head getting higher with each stride is a sign he's extending himself less and less. Their feet slip out underneath them when reaching out. My guess is that they will not find anything seriously wrong with him. I hope I'm right as we need all the good quality older horses we can get. Next time on a dry track I think we'll see him run a good race.
mike puder More than 1 year ago
You are correct in everything you have stated.
Jeff More than 1 year ago
Horse Cents - I "second" Mike's (Puder) comment. Excellent observations, H.C.
Kimberly Rock More than 1 year ago
You are right I hope. MMM will race another day! Mike Smith did his best I know.