02/21/2011 3:26PM

Mucho Macho Man back at Gulfstream after Risen Star win

Lou Hodges Jr.
Mucho Macho Man, who won the Risen Star at Fair Grounds (above), breezed a half-mile in 48.58 Saturday at his Gulfstream Park base.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Mucho Macho Man and trainer Kathy Ritvo returned here Monday from Fair Grounds, where they captured the Grade 2 Risen Star on Saturday. The victory elevated Mucho Macho Man back into the Kentucky Derby picture, following his somewhat disappointing fourth-place finish behind Dialed In in the Holy Bull.

“He came out of the race great,” Ritvo said. “At the moment, I’m not sure what will be next, although the most logical options would be either to return to the Fair Grounds for the Louisiana Derby or stay here and run in the Florida Derby the following week. I’ll get together with the owners and probably make a decision within the next several days.”

Jockey Rajiv Maragh – who picked up the mount on Mucho Macho Man late Friday after the colt’s regular rider, Eibar Coa, was seriously injured at Gulfstream earlier that day – said his horse relaxed and rated perfectly for him right from the outset of the Risen Star.

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“I could have taken him back further if I needed, but they weren’t going that fast up front and we were in a perfect spot,” Maragh said. “When that 99-1 shot [Liondrive] ran by us down the backstretch, I let him go, and I think it actually helped our cause because he softened up the leader. I wasn’t ready to make my move yet at that point, anyway. I think this performance has to make Mucho Macho Man one of the top 10 Derby prospects now.”

Maragh said it also was very fortunate that he happened to be in the right place at the right time to pick up the mount on Mucho Macho Man in the Risen Star. Maragh was at Fair Grounds on Saturday to ride Mission Impazible and Loup Breton for trainer Todd Pletcher in earlier stakes on the card.

“I was lucky to have been there to ride those other two horses and not have a call in the Risen Star,” Maragh said. “It was destiny. You can’t stop destiny.”