11/16/2012 2:49PM

Mucho Macho Man comfortable in familiar Gulfstream Park surroundings

Barbara D. Livingston
Mucho Macho Man, shown finishing second to Fort Larned in the Breeders' Cup Classic, will spend the winter at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Mucho Macho Man is back home. And he’s loving it.

Mucho Macho Man was back in his old stall at his winter base at Gulfstream Park less than 72 hours after finishing a game and hard-luck second behind Fort Larned in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He has also returned to his regular training routine, jogging and galloping on a daily basis, while his connections begin mapping out plans for his 2013 campaign.

“He loves it here at Gulfstream,” trainer Kathy Ritvo said on Thursday. “He stood out on a track for a while this morning just sunning himself and was so relaxed I thought he was going to fall asleep. Even though he ran a hard race, he came out of the Classic really well and because we spaced his races the way we did this season, in my mind I think I have a really fresh horse going into the new year.

Mucho Macho Man ran just six times in 2012. He registered his most important victory in Belmont’s Grade 2 Suburban and captured the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in the beginning of March. Aside from his near-miss in the Classic, Mucho Macho Man also finished second, a neck behind To Honor and Serve, in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Woodward. Overall, Mucho Macho Man banked $1.7 million in 2012 on top of the $533,000 he earned during his 3-year-old campaign.

“Right now we have nothing definite planned for him this winter,” said Ritvo. who acknowledged the Sunshine Millions Classic, which Mucho Macho Man won earlier this year, or the Grade 1 Donn Handicap would probably be the most likely options for his 2013 debut.

“Naturally we’d love to get a Grade 1 win with him this season,” said Ritvo. “He probably should have won his Grade 1 at Saratoga in the Woodward but he ended up in some trouble and just missed. Our number one priority, as always, is to do what’s best for the horse.”

Should Mucho Macho Man opt to open his season in the Donn, it could set up what would be a much anticipated early season rematch with Fort Larned, who will also be stabled locally at the Palm Meadows training center with Ian Wilkes, over the winter.