07/31/2013 4:12PM

Saratoga: Mucho Macho Man looking ready for Whitney

Barbara D. Livingston
In his most recent start, the Criminal Type overnight stakes at Belmont on June 14, Mucho Macho Man was third after being part of a hot early pace.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Coming off a terrific 4-year-old season in which he won three stakes and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Mucho Macho Man entered 2013 as one of the leaders of the older male division.

But this year isn’t last year, and for the most part Mucho Macho Man has been missing in action. Pulled up in one start, and third in a five-horse field in another, Mucho Macho Man enters Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap as a bit of a wild card in the eight-horse field.

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Mucho Macho Man drew post 2 and was made the 6-1 co-third choice in the Whitney, which features a rematch with Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and defending Whitney winner Fort Larned, the 7-5 morning-line favorite.

The Whitney is a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, with the winner earning a fees-paid trip to Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

[BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Win and You’re In schedule and results]

As far as his connections are concerned, Mucho Macho Man is ready to return to the form he displayed last year when he won the Gulfstream Park and Suburban handicaps – both Grade 2 races – and ran second in the Grade 1 Woodward and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“I think it’s a perfect race for him right now,” Kathy Ritvo, trainer of Mucho Macho Man, said. “He’s going into it well. I think he’s very prepared. He should be ready to run a big race.”

Mucho Macho Man began the year as the 2-5 favorite in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream. He was pulled up and didn’t finish the race, apparently not caring for the sloppy track.

Mucho Macho Man, owned by Dean and Patti Reeves, was ultimately found to have a bacterial infection and then a virus. He was shipped in February to the Fair Hill training center in Maryland, where he spent the remainder of the winter and all of the spring.

In his second start, the Criminal Type overnight stakes at Belmont on June 14, Mucho Macho Man finished third after being part of a hot early pace.

“I thought he ran okay,” Dean Reeves said. “I thought we got out of that race what we needed to get out of it.”

In July, Mucho Macho Man was relocated to Saratoga, where he has had three stamina-building workouts leading up to the Whitney.

“This is going to be a tremendously tough race,” Reeves said. “With this quality of field it’ll give you some idea where you’re at.”

For all his success – he has won four stakes and $2.3 million – Mucho Macho Man has yet to win a Grade 1.

“Is it important? Yeah,” Dean Reeves said. “Does it define his career? I think he’s had a great career. He’s beaten probably a dozen Grade 1 winners, so maybe it’s like Phil Mickelson trying to get what they consider a major. Did it mean he wasn’t a tremendous golfer? No.”

Mucho Macho Man “has competed with everybody, we’ve dodged nobody,” Reeves added. “It wouldn’t have taken much – he could have won the Woodward and Breeders’ Cup. Would we like to get a Grade 1? Absolutely. In our eyes he’s still a champion.”

While Mucho Macho Man is doing well leading up to the race, his connections didn’t think the horse fared too well at the draw, getting assigned post 2 inside of speed horses Fort Larned (post 3) and Cross Traffic (post 4). Edgar Prado will ride Mucho Macho Man.

“Two’s not my favorite number,” Ritvo said. “But we have all the confidence in Edgar.”

Fort Larned will attempt to become the first horse since Discovery (1934-35-36) to win back-to-back runnings of the Whitney.

“It’s an honor. It’s a good field, a good bunch of horses,” said Ian Wilkes, trainer of Fort Larned.

Cross Traffic, who had the rail when he was beaten a nose in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont, drew post 4 and was made the 5-2 second choice on Eric Donovan’s morning line.

Ron the Greek, second in this race last year, drew post 5 and was made the co-third choice at 6-1 along with Mucho Macho Man.

Completing the field are Alpha, last year’s dead-heat Travers winner; Successful Dan, coming off a disappointing fourth in the Stephen Foster; Csaba; and Fast Falcon.

The Whitney will go as race 10 on a 12-race Saturday card that begins at 1 p.m. NBC Sports will televise the Whitney in a one-hour broadcast beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern.

[SARATOGA 2013: Complete meet coverage, exclusive DRF videos]

Matthew Linda Jr. More than 1 year ago
Kathy Ritvo ability to train a 'TALANTED' thoroughbred is EQUAL to Mr. Ed speaking spanish. This SUPER horse does it ALL on his OWN. Saddle MMM, look serious and GO bowling. PLEASE don't forget your bowling BALLS.
John Nicoletti More than 1 year ago
MMM, is fresh, and will be dangerous. His stay at Far Hills, is an enormous plus for him. We had horses at that facility, and it is the best. They learn how to be a horse again, and the folks at that facility, are excellent at what they do. MMM, will make his presence known. At 6-1, I love him.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Fort Larned will do what he does and Pletcher will all but certainly try to steal it with Cross Traffic. The pace will be way faster than it should be. MMM will fade and Successful Dan will run them down. Boxing Successful Dan and Fort Larned. Those ol Churchill running lines will jump off the paper after this one is over.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Im calling my shot off the backboard here.
John Nicoletti More than 1 year ago
I would add MMM, to the equation.
Tim More than 1 year ago
bad breeding keeps these beautiful creatures from making more starts, and these horses can't maintain a decent following. Mucho not so macho, with Mr prospector X4s X4d. weakening the breed to sell thoroughbreds. breed for speed and not strength is killing this sport.
Geral John Pinault More than 1 year ago
Mucho Macho Man is not the same horse he used to be. Something happened to him in The Met Mile. I will not bet him again...
joseph More than 1 year ago
He didn't run in that race. He's a big horse, needs some time to get fit and I don't think its helped that he's been handled with kid gloves during his career he could have used a race at Belmont last Fall for instance, doubt he's ready for this field though but I would not dismiss him outright in the future.
Greg Rouch More than 1 year ago
He's as talented as any of these, but he runs in some spots and not others. They believe they figured out that he needs time between races.
Cavonnier More than 1 year ago
It's an absolutely sad day and time when horseracing is experiencing such tough times, that one of the identifiable publications is sticking it to its loyal fan base. By trying to charge members/casual readers, to the sport, money to read/use things that have been FREE for years, is criminal. I am not sure about the economic hardships the DRF must be experiencing, but charging the loyal racing fan extra, for traditionally free material, is a stroke of absurdity. I find it over ironic the number of complaints read on this web-site about how unusually high take out numbers for tracks is killing the sport's growing popularity. This high take rate is something that has been condemned by this site and its numerous writers. So with being known and understood, what does the DRF decide to do, in a critical time of the sport, lets charge the average/loyal racing fan for our content. Please defend how you at DRF are any different than the racetrack RIPPING off the public with high take out rates and now charging silly rates for use on your website? See the hypocrisy that exists in this sport, is killing it. Those who are entrusted with helping the sport, the DRF, is slowly continuing to kill the sport through its GREED! Shame on this website and those who support this change. At the risk of your loyal readers and horse racing fans, you are putting money in your pockets at the expense of those who support this site and sports, the fans! Thank you DRF for contributing to the demise of the sport through your greed!
Greg Rouch More than 1 year ago
It's still a free country for private enterprise, though barely. The market will properly decide whether DRF's decision was astute.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Its funny because these "example" articles that we have are nothing more than the conclusions of the short articles they post. If people pay, they are idiots.
Christopher Clark More than 1 year ago
Taking the easy road...
Matthew Ellis More than 1 year ago
where's Game on Dude dont they want him to compete with the best He wouldn't place in this field
Greg Rouch More than 1 year ago
Isn't he pointed to the Pacific Classic? It's the most logical spot if they're justing hoping to collect more $$$.
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
Why aren't these horses pointing towards the Pacific Classic, with a bigger purse and at the classic distance of 10f? Planes go both ways across the Rockies.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Fort Larned is not about to prep for the BC Classic on a synthetic surface.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Whats the point? Game on Dude does not need to try to sell himself for breeding, hes a gelding. Stay at home in Cali and collect massive checks. Thats the name of the game.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
It sucks the west coast doesn't seems to attract this type of field for a gr 1 .sure miss the old days
Ronald Dodgen More than 1 year ago
Fort larned will sit of Cross Traffic and if the track is playing fast Fort Larned will win easy.