Updated on 09/16/2011 8:28AM

Macho Uno seems ready to make up for lost time


With his physical ailments and mental fragility seemingly behind him, Macho Uno may finally be ready to realize the promise so many held for him following his championship campaign of 2000.

Since holding off Point Given by a nose to win the 2000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Macho Uno has run only five times with a victory in the Grade 3 Pennsylvania Derby last Labor Day being his greatest achievement.

Owner Frank Stronach and trainer Joe Orseno hope there are far greater prizes to be had, starting with Saturday's $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs. The 63rd Mass Cap, a Grade 2 event that drew nine horses, will go as race 13 on a 14-race card that commences at 11:45 a.m. Eastern. Post time for the Mass Cap is 5:42 p.m.

Macho Uno, who will be ridden by Gary Stevens, drew post 2 and was made the 2-1 second choice on Suffolk Downs linemaker Mike Gonzalez's morning line behind defending Mass Cap winner Include. Include, the 120-pound highweight, was made the 9-5 favorite and will break from post 7 under Jerry Bailey.

Donn Handicap winner Mongoose, Evening Attire, John Little, and Griffinite are all graded stakes winners. The New York-bred stakes winner Compelling World and local longshots Soes Bandit and Special Terms complete the field.

Macho Uno, a son of Holy Bull, was weak behind, especially in his ankles, causing his connections to skip the 2001 Triple Crown races. Watching Point Given finish fifth as the Derby favorite before winning the Preakness and Belmont left Orseno with mixed emotions.

"The difficult thing was knowing the horse was talented enough to compete in last year's Derby, Preakness, and Belmont and just because of his bone immaturity in his back ankles it was recommended to give him some time and that was something we had to do," Orseno said. "It's a good thing the horse is owned by the Stronachs and not somebody who would have let their ego get in the way and decide, 'No, we can still make the Derby.' I could have gotten him to the Derby and I told Mr. Stronach that. But, after that, we might not have a lot left."

Macho Uno didn't make his 3-year-old debut until July 25 when he lost a Saratoga allowance race by a nose. After that, Orseno put blinkers on Macho Uno, and he responded with a solid victory in the Pennsylvania Derby. Following a poor effort in the Ohio Derby, Macho Uno ended his 3-year-old season with a decent fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Macho Uno flashed his championship form in his 4-year-old debut, winning a money allowance race at Gulfstream Park on March 23. After being bumped between horses entering the first turn, Macho Uno raced in seventh position down the backside. He split horses leaving the five-sixteenths pole, angled three wide for the stretch drive, and ran down Hail the Chief in the final strides to win by a half-length.

Macho Uno earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 111 and was further flattered when Hail the Chief came back to win the National Jockey Club Handicap and Hawthorne Gold Cup.

When the Pimlico Special was canceled, Stronach agreed to let Orseno simply train Macho Uno up to the Mass Cap.

"I felt strongly I was able to train him from the race at Gulfstream to the Mass Cap which turns out to be 69 days," Orseno said. "You have to be careful. You have to get your horse ready; but you don't want him to come up short, and you don't want him to peak too early. This was probably the toughest part of the whole year, these 10 weeks."

If all goes well, Macho Uno would use the Mass Cap as a springboard to the Suburban at Belmont on July 6, the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 3, and either the Woodward and/or Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont in the fall. All would be a prelude to the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 26 at Arlington Park.

* Dream Run, winner of the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship, tops a six-horse field entered in the $150,000 James B. Moseley Handicap at six furlongs. Dream Run drew post 4 and will be ridden by Jerry Bailey. His five rivals are Valiant Halory, Esteemed Friend, Stormin Oedy, Southland Blues, and Captain Red.