12/26/2013 2:59PM

Mucho Macho Man wins Vox Populi Award for 2013

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Barbara D. Livingston
Online voting by fans, a committee, and Penny Chenery agreed that Mucho Macho Man was the best choice for the Vox Populi Award.

Mucho Macho Man, who returned from a five-month layoff recuperating from bacterial and viral infections to win back-to-back Grade 1 stakes, is the winner of the fourth annual Secretariat Vox Populi, or “Voice of the People,” Award.

The award recognizes the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing.

 The 5-year-old Mucho Macho Man was the unanimous choice among the three deciding bodies: fans in online voting, the Vox Populi Committee, and Penny Chenery, who established the award in 2010. He ended his illness-abbreviated campaign by winning the Awesome Again Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Mucho Macho Man’s win in the Classic was a highlight for both his trainer Kathy Ritvo, who has endured several health issues in recent years, including a heart transplant in 2008, and his jockey Gary Stevens, who came out of racing retirement early in 2013 after working in television for eight years and appearing in the movie Seabiscuit.

 Stevens, along with owners Dean and Patti Reeves, will receive the Vox Populi trophy at Santa Anita Park on Jan. 11. Ritvo and Mucho Macho Man will be recognized during a simultaneous presentation at Gulfstream Park.

The award was previously won by Paynter (2012), Rapid Redux (2011), and Zenyatta (2010).