05/17/2011 9:16AM

Preakness: Mucho Macho Man impressive in final work

Barbara D. Livingston
Mucho Macho Man worked a half-mile in 49.21 at Belmont in his final drill before the Preakness.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Mucho Macho Man, who finished third behind Animal Kingdom in the Kentucky Derby, worked a half-mile in 49.21 seconds Tuesday morning over a sealed, sloppy Belmont Park training track, his final major piece of training before Saturday’s $1 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

Jockey Rajiv Maragh was up for the move, which Daily Racing Form timed in fractions of 12.27 seconds for the opening eighth, 24.09 for the quarter and 49.21 for four furlongs. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:03.70.

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Though overnight and early morning rains turned the track into a sea of slop, trainer Kathy Ritvo was undeterred in her plan to work the colt. Ritvo said she "just wanted to see how he was doing."

By all accounts, Mucho Macho Man is doing just fine.

On the way back to the barn, Maragh told Ritvo, "At the quarter pole he wanted to go faster than I wanted him to go, which is a good sign for him."

Said Ritvo: "He went unbelievable."

Maragh brought Mucho Macho Man to the track just before 8 a.m. and let him stand by the finish line for a few moments as the rain fell. The duo jogged to the quarter pole, where Mucho Macho Man stood briefly again before Maragh turned him around and took him to the stretch. He was under a controlled gallop before Maragh asked him to break off at the quarter pole.

"He went off pretty nicely, actually," Maragh said. "Sometimes he has a tendency by himself to be a little lazy, not focused, but he was very focused today. I definitely see some progression; maybe the light bulb went off on this horse. I like the aggression that he’s showing."

Maragh said while it wasn’t a necessity that he got to sit on Mucho Macho Man once between the Derby and the Preakness, he was happy for the opportunity.

"It’s definitely a positive sign that he worked the way he did today," Maragh said. "I don’t know how I’d be feeling if he didn’t work, but the fact is he did and he went well; makes me feel good."

Ritvo said she is likely to ship Mucho Macho Man to Baltimore on Wednesday.