05/30/2013 4:16PM

Penn National: Clean trip may be all Macho Macho needs in Mountainview


Macho Macho’s 4-year-old campaign began promisingly enough, with a solid fourth behind three good horses – Graydar, Mark Valeski, and Bourbon Courage – in the New Orleans Handicap. That comeback race might have been a means to an end, the end being the Alysheba Stakes on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill. But the end of Macho Macho’s chances in the Alysheba came early, when he was squeezed to the back of the field going into the first turn. Runner-up Cyber Secret was disqualified because of the incident, but little good that did Macho Macho, who checked in sixth.

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With better luck, things could turn out differently Saturday night at Penn National in the $250,000 Mountainview Handicap, in which Macho Macho faces seven foes – none as good as the cream of the Alysheba – going 1 1/8 miles on dirt.

Steve Asmussen trains 4-year-old Macho Macho, who was purchased by Prince Faisal bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz, a member of the Saudi royal family, following a good 3-year-old campaign. Macho Macho’s 3-year-old season, as it happens, ended in Pennsylvania with another tough-luck finish, as he rallied into a slow pace in the Pennsylvania Derby to finish second. Macho Macho, with Joel Rosario named to ride, had a good win last year in the West Virginia Derby, and his New Orleans handicap performance is the best race turned in this year by any of the Mountainview entrants. Bettors should find his 7-2 morning-line odds attractive.

Rattlesnake Bridge, whose high-water mark was a second in the 2011 Travers, missed his entire 4-year-old season last year, and after returning with a narrow allowance-race win had the misfortune of hooking Flat Out and Cross Traffic in a sizzling edition of the Westchester at Belmont.

Easter Gift, a 4-year-old like Macho Macho, has won two of three starts since being transferred into Chad Brown’s stable, but while giving the appearance of an improving horse, Easter Gift remains suspect at the Mountainview’s nine furlongs.

The 5-year-old Pants On Fire is more exposed than the 4-year-olds but is capable of impacting the race with his best. He ran into two sharp horses – Cigar Street and Take Charge Indy – when third last out in the Skip Away at Gulfstream.

Norman Asbjornson is only a solid listed-stakes level performer but holds one edge on the higher-class runners, with a 4-1-2-0 record at Penn.