03/08/2012 1:09PM

King: Rail draw shouldn't hurt Mucho Macho Man in Gulfstream Park Handicap

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mucho Macho Man will start from the rail in the Gulfstream Park Handicap.

When betting a speed horse in a one-turn race, this horseplayer typically prefers to back those runners drawn outside. Reason being, such a post does not place the rider in a position of feeling that he must send his mount. The jockey can let the horse settle into a comfortable pace, judge the tempo of the speed horses inside him, and either elect to go to the front or press the pace.

This is just a typical preference, however. Horses win from all over the racetrack, and predicting how a race will unfold, and the consequence of post position, will always remain guesswork to some degree.

Handicapping components such class, speed figures, and recent form still trump post position, and for that reason it seems best to excuse a couple rail draws from speed horses in two stakes races this Saturday – Much Macho Man in the one-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap and How Do I Win in the Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes at Aqueduct.

They both fit so well from so many other handicapping perspectives that their rail draws may prove insignificant.

Starting with Mucho Macho Man in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, it is readily apparent he has elevated his game after a freshening following last year’s Triple Crown, winning two straight, most notably the Sunshine Millions Classic over eventual Santa Anita Handicap winner Ron the Greek.

Although the Sunshine Millions Classic came at 1 1/8 miles, there is little doubt this horse is as good at a mile. He proved as much with an easy score in a November race over Aqueduct’s main track, which, like Gulfstream, cards one-mile races out of a long chute.

Even though he’s speedy and on the fence, the anticipation is jockey Ramon Dominguez will ride him patiently, knowing the speedy and fresh Tackleberry is immediately to his outside.

To run with that one early would simply leave Mucho Macho Man vulnerable to the rally of Jackson Bend, one of the best long one-turn horses in the country.

But as good as Jackson Bend is, the blossoming Mucho Macho Man is at least close to the him in ability. And when you factor in that he is likely to be the better price of the two, he seems worthy of a wager.

As for How Do I Win, who races six furlongs at Aqueduct, he is a horse that should benefit from a class drop after facing Derby prospect Alpha in his last two starts when racing two turns. He faded to fourth in the both the Count Fleet and Grade 3 Withers, likely the result of being outclassed and limited by a shortage of stamina.

Those factors aren’t in play in the Capossela. This time, he is the most battle-tested horse and he’s returning to a distance over which he is a two-time winner.

Less enthusiastically, he faces a field inundated with speed, but given his apparent class edge, the inside-breaking How Do I Win may prove capable of withstanding the pace pressure likely to come from his outside.

Turf-to-dirt angle looks intriguing

Shifting to a couple of grass races – the Black Gold at Fair Grounds and the China Doll at Santa Anita – a couple of horses making shifts from dirt to turf look like intriguing wagers: Hammer’s Terror in the Black Gold and Lady of Shamrock in the China Doll.

Beginning with the Black Gold, first-time turfer Hammer’s Terror finally gets the chance to run on grass, the surface on which he is bred to be at his best. A son of Artie Schiller out of a Lord Avie mare, everything about his pedigree suggests turf success.

Further suggesting he should take to the lawn is how he performed in two past efforts on Polytrack at Arlington and Keeneland.

He also drops out of the Grade 3 Lecomte, where he ran sixth on dirt.

Lady of Shamrock, meanwhile, is already a proven commodity on turf, having won a stakes race on the Santa Anita lawn Dec. 30 after being purchased privately following a fast maiden triumph at Churchill Downs in November.

Forgive her for her most recent race, a distant third in a five-horse field in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel, as it came on dirt.

Her connections were simply taking a shot in there, knowing there was very little for her on grass until later in the Santa Anita meet. Turf is her true calling.