12/01/2009 12:00AM

Macho Again to get a freshening

Barbara D. Livingston
Macho Again finished ninth in the Clark Handicap but will regroup and point for a 2010 campaign.

Macho Again finished ninth in the Clark Handicap on Friday, a disappointing conclusion to an occasionally excellent 2009 campaign. But Macho Again is back at Fair Grounds, no worse for wear, according to trainer Dallas Stewart, and ready to crank up for another go of things in 2010.

"He came back sound, and he's eating well," Stewart said.

It was at Fair Grounds that Macho Again began the meat of his 2009 season. Seventh in a Sunshine Millions race in January at Gulfstream, Macho Again rallied to win the New Orleans Handicap in March. He also captured the Grade 1 Stephen Foster in June and finished second in both the Whitney and the Woodward at Saratoga. In the Clark, he made a mild rally into the far turn, but his run quickly flattened out and he was nowhere close at the finish.

Robby Albarado "had to scrub on him down the backside," Stewart said. "He made a move but didn't close it out like he usually does. He had trained really well. It was just the end of a long season, I guess."

Stewart said Macho Again will be kept in light training while he's freshened up over the winter. Later in the meet, a two-race Fair Grounds combination of the Grade 3 Mineshaft and a defense of his New Orleans Handicap title is possible.

"We'll be patient with him, and when we feel like he's ready to go on, we will," Stewart said.

Wow Wow Wow impresses for Lukas

Stewart's old boss, Wayne Lukas, is running a Fair Grounds string this meet, and on Saturday, one of his New Orleans 2-year-olds, Wow Wow Wow, scored the most impressive maiden win so far this Fair Grounds season.

Wow Wow Wow might have been flattered by a main track that appeared to be carrying speed late on Saturday's card, but he still ran well. Making his fourth start, but first around two turns on dirt, Wow Wow Wow sprinted clear under John Jacinto and set what ought to have been a suicidal pace, passing the half-mile in 46.38 seconds. But instead of coming back to the field, Wow Wow Wow, a Broken Vow colt bred and owned by Marylou Whitney, stayed on, winning by three lengths.

"I was really anxious to see him on the dirt and go two turns," Lukas said Tuesday. "The thing that impressed me the most, it's very difficult for a 2-year-old to set all the fractions and finish at the Fair Grounds because of the length of the stretch. He did that, so I was very impressed with him. I thought it was a breakthrough race for him."

Lukas said he plans to bring Wow Wow Wow back in a two-turn allowance race.

"We'll keep him in his conditions and see if he can do it again," he said.

Local jockey colony gains strength

Jockey Jesse Campbell has ridden nine winners so far this Fair Grounds meet, but it could've been more. Campbell hurt his hand in a Saturday morning training incident but still was able to ride that afternoon. It was getting tossed before the sixth race and landing hard on his foot that took Campbell out of action the second half of Saturday's card. Worse still, two of the mounts he had to take off won later on the card.

Campbell suffered a bruised foot and a sprained ankle and was unable to ride Sunday, but he said he hopes to be back Thursday.

But the Fair Grounds riding colony will be more competitive from here on out. Joining the local contingent Thursday now that the Churchill Downs meet has ended is Fair Grounds 2008-2009 leading rider Robby Albarado. Also riding Thursday for the first time this Fair Grounds season is Shaun Bridgmohan. Francisco Torres is here to stay after riding one day early this Fair Grounds meet, and Jamie Theriot now is fully settled in New Orleans after shuttling between Fair Grounds and Churchill during November.