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Santa Anita notes: Mucho Macho Man awaits matchup with Game On Dude
ARCADIA, Calif. – Mucho Macho Man became a Grade 1 winner in his 22nd start with a convincing victory in Saturday’s $250,000 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita. The win left trainer Kathy Ritvo anxious to run the horse here Nov. 2 in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, where he will take on local handicap star Game On Dude in the race over 1 1/4 miles.
“He’s a nice horse, but mine is, too,” Ritvo said Sunday.
Game On Dude, the winner of the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 25, did not start in the Awesome Again, a race he won in 2012. Game On Dude subsequently was seventh in the 2012 BC Classic, a race in which Mucho Macho Man was second.
Owned by Dean and Patti Reeves, Mucho Macho Man won Saturday’s Awesome Again Stakes over 1 1/8 miles by 4 1/4 lengths over Paynter, another candidate for the BC Classic, according to trainer Bob Baffert.
Mucho Macho Man ($5.20) raced wide throughout and pulled clear in early stretch under jockey Gary Stevens to get his fifth stakes win.
“He ran a super race,” Ritvo said. “I was very proud of the horse. He got the Grade 1 win that he deserves.”
Prior to Saturday’s race, Mucho Macho Man had been second in two Grade 1 races – the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga and the 2012 BC Classic.
Mucho Macho Man earned a fees-paid berth to the BC Classic for his win in the Awesome Again Stakes through the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program. Four other winners of Grade 1, $250,000 races at Santa Anita on Saturday also earned fees-paid berths to Breeders’ Cup races.
Secret Compass is bound for the $2 million BC Juvenile Fillies after winning the Chandelier Stakes for her first stakes win. Secret Compass ($23.40) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.91. Runner-up She’s a Tiger, beaten a head after leading by 2 1/2 lengths on the turn, is another candidate for the BC Juvenile Fillies, trainer Jeff Bonde said.
“I was happy with the race,” Bonde said Sunday. “She had to give up ground on both turns. She seemed to learn how to relax more.”
She’s a Tiger won the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on Aug. 31.
Tiz Flirtatious and Marketing Mix will run in the $2 million BC Filly and Mare Turf on Nov. 2 after finishing a head apart in Saturday’s Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf.
Tiz Flirtatious ($5.40) closed from fourth in a field of seven to reach the front in the final strides. The Rodeo Drive was the first Grade 1 win for Tiz Flirtatious and her first start at 1 1/4 miles.
“She’s a little tired, but she looks good,” trainer Marty Jones said Sunday. “We’ve got another five weeks. She did have to run pretty hard. Any time you beat a [mare] like Marketing Mix, that speaks for itself.”
Marketing Mix won the 2012 Rodeo Drive and later was second in the BC Filly and Mare Turf.
On Aug. 17, Marketing Mix was fourth as the favorite in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park. She ran a brighter race in the Rodeo Drive.
“I thought she ran a hell of a race,” trainer Tom Proctor said Sunday. “They hooked up pretty good when they ran down the stretch.”
Owned by Glen Hill Farm, Marketing Mix is likely to make the final start of her career in the BC Filly and Mare Turf, Proctor said last week.
Tiz Flirtatious and Marketing Mix caught pacesetter Vionnet in the final sixteenth of the Rodeo Drive. Vionnet was beaten a head and a half-length by that pair. She could run in the BC Filly and Mare Turf, although trainer Richard Mandella said the $150,000 Goldikova Stakes over a mile on turf Nov. 3 is another option.
“I’ll look at the Breeders’ Cup, but more probably, she’ll run in the Goldikova,” Mandella said. “We may take a shot.”
Mandella had a major stakes win later on Saturday’s program when Beholder, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2012, won her first start against older fillies and mares in the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes over 1 1/16 miles.
Stevens rode Beholder, who paid $5.20 as the favorite. Stevens had two other wins Saturday to mark the most productive day for the 50-year-old Hall of Famer since he came out of retirement in January. It was his first four-win day since Feb. 27, 1998, at Santa Anita.
The win by Beholder will lead to a start in the $2 million BC Distaff over 1 1/8 miles on Nov. 1. Beholder, the winner of four Grade 1 races in her career, was second to top 3-year-old filly Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks over 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs in May, her only start at the distance.
Mandella said he is ready to try Beholder again at that distance after watching Saturday’s race.
“At the Kentucky Oaks, I thought she fought back in the last 50 yards,” Mandella said.
Beholder’s win came on owner B. Wayne Hughes’s 80th birthday and pushed the filly closer to a season-long objective, he said.
“Our whole goal this year was to get to the Breeders’ Cup again,” Hughes said Saturday.
Similar to Secret Compass, Bond Holder was a surprise winner of a race for 2-year-olds in the FrontRunner Stakes. Trained by Doug O’Neill, Bond Holder ($23.80) closed from eighth in a field of 10 to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Dance With Fate, the 2-1 favorite.
Tamarando, the winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 4, recovered from a poor start to finish third.
Bond Holder will start in the $2 million BC Juvenile on Nov. 2. He came into the FrontRunner Stakes as a maiden in four races.
“We thought he’d be better going two turns, but we never imagined he’d jump up like that,” O’Neill said. “He seemed to get stronger as the race went on.”
The Baffert-trained Can the Man finished fourth after leading by a length in the stretch. Baffert said Sunday that Can the Man might start in the BC Juvenile, depending on how he trains in the coming weeks.
I would love to see Wise Dan run in the Classic, what a race that would make and most likely W.D. would be my choice , if he doesn't enter then it's Game On Dude's race to lose............
Sorry for the typos - stellar year Best of the class
At this point in the Dude's career he does not need the lead. If a bunny goes he can sit. With MMM each time he has been hooked and asked the question he"s run 2nd. So for me if MMM wins it will be due to a sweet set up and it will be by open lengths. The best way for the Dude to lose would be to draw inside and have the pace applied to him. If he draws outside the other pace he will be very tough to best. This has not been a steelsr year for older males - Ron the Greek just annihilated the best if the class - aside from MMM and perhaps Successful Dan. Wise Dan will not be here. Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar could run with these. Fort Larned seems unlikely to repeat, despite the recent win over lesser. So what are you left with? A super low priced exacta of Game On Dude over Mucho Macho Man? Given MMM's proclivity for this strip - quite possibly. I like the Dude to crush for the crown jewel of his career.
All right, let's get Wise Dan in that mix and make it an absolutely stellar BC Classic. We haven't had a Classic like that in a very long time.
Gary Stevens and MMM are going to be pretty salty in the BC classic. The race is going to be a hot one for sure.
Rob you and Patrick Toal will be proved to be Geniuses! Guaranteed! :-))
Goes to show you how much better the East Coast Handicap horses are. Dude is not in the league of this crew.
Yes, Kathy, MMM is a "nice horse." No doubt. But Game On Dude is a lot more than that - he's awesome, and will continue to demonstrate that in the Classic. Regardless, I'm glad that MMM came back to his best form and finally got a Grade 1 victory.
I've always been a fan of Game on dude. No criticism from me. I think he's an outstanding horse, but there is no way he gets an easy lead in the Classic and Gary will have MMM in the catbirds seat ready to pounce. MMM for the win.
Maybe this'll be the year for The Big Man, last years performance in the BCC was, well... classic.