08/29/2012 4:09PM

Saratoga: Mucho Macho Man targets first Grade 1 win in Woodward Stakes

Tom Keyser
Mucho Macho Man will try again for his first Grade 1 victory in Saturday's $750,000 Woodward Stakes.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – About the only thing missing from Mucho Macho Man’s résumé is a Grade 1 victory. He can take care of that while continuing to build a case to be considered for champion older male when he takes on six rivals in Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga.

The Woodward, run at 1 1/8 miles, tops a 12-race, near-six-hour extravaganza here Saturday that includes the Grade 1 Forego for male sprinters and the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap for males on the turf.

The Woodward will be Mucho Macho Man’s first start in a Grade 1 since he ran seventh in the Belmont Stakes almost 15 months ago. But in the restricted Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream, he beat Ron the Greek and Turbo Compressor – both of whom have come back to win Grade 1’s this year. He beat solid fields in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap and Grade 2 Suburban last month at Belmont.

“I think the last couple of races he ran in were close to Grade 1’s,” said Kathy Ritvo, trainer of Mucho Macho Man. “I think he’s still keeping with the right group of horses. It’ll be a good race.”

Since returning from the Triple Crown campaign of 2011 – he finished third in the Kentucky Derby – Mucho Macho Man has won 4 of 5 starts with his races spaced out from six to 10 weeks. His most impressive performance was his last, a 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 2 Suburban at Belmont in which he ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.58. In the Suburban, he defeated Stay Thirsty and To Honor and Serve, who are both back in this field.

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Mucho Macho Man will break from post 3 under Mike Smith.

In the Suburban, Mucho Macho Man was second off Trickmeister, who set a rapid early pace. Trickmeister, who finished fifth in the Whitney, is back in this field as is the speedy Rule, who finished ninth in the Whitney. Ritvo said she’s not worried about how much speed may or may not be in the field.

“He has a very nice running style that I don’t think he gets himself into too much trouble,” Ritvo said of Mucho Macho Man.

Stay Thirsty and To Honor and Serve are both trying to regain the form that made them multiple graded stakes winners. Todd Pletcher, trainer of Stay Thirsty, and Bill Mott, trainer of To Honor and Serve, both believe the heat adversely affected their horses in the Suburban. That’s one reason those horses haven’t run since then.

“Obviously, we had a hot week leading up to it, all the horses were a little quiet, but I think he was exceptionally different in the paddock,” Mott said of To Honor and Serve.

Temperatures are expected to be in the low to mid-80s with low humidity Saturday.

Cease could be the wildcard in the Woodward. He is 3 for 3 at Saratoga, but has yet to win a graded stakes.

Gourmet Dinner, fourth in the Grade 3 Iselin at Monmouth on Aug. 18, completes the field.

The Woodward and the Forego will both be shown live during a one-hour broadcast on NBC beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern.

John Sbrogna More than 1 year ago
Mike Smith has become the BIG RACE jock in his senior years. Mucho's running style fits in Mikes whelhouse(sitting just off the pace leaders and pouncing with that one big run).
SHARON Lyda More than 1 year ago
The interesting thing is each horse wants to run and win regardless of "grade" horses do not know what "grade" they are in. There are horses in this field that can win be it closing, off pace or front speed they adjust...now that is the champion. I remember handicapping the Belmont Stakes and Union Rags has that same ability and we all know where he ended up. While Mucho has the speed he is going to need to watch his every move and position because To Honor and Serve and Cease are not going down without a fight.
joseph More than 1 year ago
He was so visually impressive last time out, be surprised if he doesnt romp and go on to become HOY.
Perl More than 1 year ago
I wonder if they will make To Honor And Serve the favorite yet again.
Andrew Montez More than 1 year ago
Not to mention he would be a good horse to enter the breeding pool. unlike this years crop of 3 yr olds
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
and the idiocy involving the bashing of this yrs. 3 yr old crop continues to amaze me.i stick to what i said earlier in the year. this is one of the strongest crops in a long time. have they been able to stay sound? no. but talent wise they were strong.so fartheres been one of them run against older in a grade 1 race, and he destroyed them. and he was getting trounced by the others. exactly what do you base your theories on? do you call miss cleo? hell the best one of the bunch never even made it to the tc, but you will see come next year when hes a 4 yr old just how strong he is. hes entered tomorow at del mar. fedbiz. whether he wins first time back in a route, i dont know. but id like to get odds on him to win the malibu and big cap riight now.
Andrew Montez More than 1 year ago
Hasn't won a grade 1, but has beat multiple top grade 1 winners. nuff said
David Robinson More than 1 year ago
enuff said meaning what?
Peter R More than 1 year ago
Not a fan of Mucho Macho Man, with Mike Smith aboard who seems now a days he can only win on a slam dunk favorite. Mucho has never won a grade I, at this point in his career I don't see it, I will use him only underneath Saturday on my exotics.
bleck1022 More than 1 year ago
did you completely forget who was on drosselmeyer last november?
Curtis V Slewster More than 1 year ago
Brain Russell, How do you live w/yourself making such an embarassing comment ? You must be a Brit, No ? They all claim Frankel is the "Greatest" of ALL-time, even on Dirt. & He only raced at distance once, & never on Dirt. Of course, they claim "Greatest" status every other week, just like the Merry-Go-Round....Who is next weeks "Greatest"? Curtis V. Slewster.........
Brian Russell More than 1 year ago
Mucho Macho Man might be one of the best horses to ever look through a bridle. His trainer was 5 for 107 last year and 2 of the wins were his!
Marc Estrich More than 1 year ago
Her Father owned horses. Her brother is a good trainer. Two other brothers were jockeys. Her Husband was a decent jock and a good trainer now working in high level racing administration so she grew up in the business and knows what she's doing. That being said, Mucho Macho Man is a VERY good horse!
Rob Tolliver More than 1 year ago
Maybe she's the retarded one in the family? I heard Einstein's sister didn't know how to tie her own shoe.
Angelo Zisko More than 1 year ago
Too funny. Ensteins sister wore pumps.
Thomas Soban More than 1 year ago
No. Until MMM wins several more races including the BC Classic, no teven close. AND I think you are unfair to the trainer too.
David Robinson More than 1 year ago
are you serious? look i said after he made his first of the year, in an alw. race i believe, that he was the best horse in the country. but but ever? i love how every singl year some idiot proclaims someone one of the best ever. i dont have his pp's in front of me, so correct me if im wrong. but hasnt he lost more races then hes won? that does not qualify him as one of the best ever. learn the sport, and the history of it.
Brian Russell More than 1 year ago
No, I'm not serious. It's amazing how many people thought I was.