Updated on 09/15/2011 2:08PM

Macho Uno bound for Classic


NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - As with most happenings of consequence, the Ohio Derby resulted in some good things and some not so good.

For Macho Uno and the many horseplayers who pounded him down to 1-5 odds, this Ohio Derby wasn't so great. But two days after the race, trainer Joe Orseno was philosophical about Macho Uno's third-place finish and optimistic that the 3-year-old colt still will run in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

"I think a combination of things probably got him beat," Orseno said Monday from his Belmont Park barn. "He was really climbing and switching leads back and forth into the first turn, which tells you he wasn't very comfortable with the track. But he did try, and I'm happy he was running the way he was at the end."

Orseno noted that because Macho Uno had a bout of colic a week before the race, "I wasn't able to get him here early and have him train over the track, which probably would have been to our advantage." The colic setback, he added, "probably made him about 95 percent for the race.

"He came back in good shape. He weighs the same today as he did when he left, which is good. We're going to do some blood work on him and see how he trains later in the week. Right now, I have no reason why I wouldn't want to run him in the Breeders' Cup. If he can run the same way he did in [winning] the Pennsylvania Derby, I think he's got as good a chance as anybody."

Besides Macho Uno's loss, the other notable disappointment of Ohio Derby Day was the attendance and handle. Although Thistledown reported an on-track crowd of 10,365, only $479,569 was bet, which would be a per-capita of less than $50. Many fans could not withstand unseasonably low temperatures in the 50's, which forced many to stay inside the six-story grandstand.

And although the all-sources handle of $2,6621,387 was more than the $2.49 million handled last year, it was still far below the record $3.85 million handled on Ohio Derby Day in 1999.

This was the first time Thistledown had tried a late-September date. Director of racing Bill Couch said he believes management soon will decide whether to switch back to the more traditional June or July date for the race. Couch said his inclination is to revert to the old.

Couch also cited conflicts with afternoon ballgames for the Cleveland Indians and Ohio State Buckeyes as probable detriments to the bottom line.

Easily the most positive thing to emerge from the Ohio Derby was Western Pride. He withstood stern challenges from Woodmoon and Macho Uno, proving his West Virginia Derby upset was no fluke. The triumph was especially gratifying for owner Theresa McArthur, a Cincinnati resident who last year was voted the

Ohio owner of the year, as well as trainer Richie Estvanko and jockey Dana Whitney, neither of whom are accustomed to winning races of such stature.