Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) winner Mucho Macho Man has been installed as the 9-5 favorite for the $1 million Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds March 26.
Thirteen 3-year-olds were entered March 20 in the 1 1/8-mile Louisiana Derby. It is the 10th race on a Fair Grounds program that also includes three other grade II events: the Fair Grounds Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, the Mervin H. Munoz Jr. Memorial Handicap on turf, and the New Orleans Handicap for older horses on the main track. The Louisiana Derby is set for 4:55 p.m. CDT.
Mucho Macho Man, trained by Kathy Ritvo for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team 1 Racing, drew post 5.
The Florida-bred son of Macho Uno --Ponche de Leona, by Ponche, captured the 1 1/16-mile Risen Star at Fair Grounds Feb. 19 by 1 1/2 lengths. Mucho Macho Man was forwardly placed in the Risen Star and rallied three or four paths wide on the final turn before clearing off in the stretch to defeat Santiva .
Mucho Macho Man, second to To Honor and Serve in both the Remsen (gr. II) and Nashua (gr. II) Stakes last year, began the 2011 season with a fourth-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 30.
Rajiv Maragh, who picked up the Risen Star mount on Mucho Macho Man for the injured Eibar Coa, will be back aboard the bay colt in the Louisiana Derby.
Neither Santiva nor third-place Risen Star finisher Rogue Romance, who is off the Triple Crown trail with a foot fracture, are entered in the Louisiana Derby. The 7-2 morning line second choice is Machen, who finished fourth in the Risen Star.
The Courtlandt Farms homebred son of Distorted Humor , trained by Neil Howard, was making his stakes debut in the Risen Star after a pair of impressive victories at Fair Grounds to begin his career in January. Edgar Prado takes the mount on Machen, who drew post 7.
Howard also entered Gaillardia Racing homebred Wilkinson, winner of the LeComte Stakes (gr. III) by a head at Fair Grounds Jan. 22. The Lemon Drop Kid colt, 8-1 on the early line, will break from post 10 with Garrett Gomez aboard.
The runner-up in the LeComte, Pants On Fire, is part of a Kelly Breen-trained entry along with Nacho Business for owners George and Lori Hall.
Pants On Fire, a son of Jump Start , returned to run sixth in the Risen Star. He will have a new rider in Rosie Napravnik. Nacho Business will be making his stakes bow following a debut maiden win to start the year and a close second in first-level allowance company at Gulfstream Park Feb. 26. Joe Bravo jumps off Pants On Fire to retain the mount on Nacho Business, a colt by Rahy. The entry is listed at 10-1.
Another leading contender is Elite Alex, who was entered in the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park March 19 but was scratched for this spot by trainer Tim Ritchey.
A Canadian-bred son of Afleet Alex , Elite Alex is coming off a third-place finish in Oaklawn's one-mile Southwest Stakes (gr. III) Feb. 21. The bay colt drew post 12 and is pegged at 6-1. Calvin Borel has the call.
Borel was aboard Elite Alex for a workout March 20 at Oaklawn. Elite Alex went five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 in company.
$1 Million Louisiana Derby (gr. II, Race 10, 4:55 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer ML Odds
1. a-Nacho Business (KY), J Bravo, K J Breen, 10/1
2. a-Pants On Fire (KY), A R Napravnik, K J Breen, 10/1
3. Nehro (KY), M C Baze, S M Asmussen, 30/1
4. Mavericking (IL), S Bridgmohan, N L Pessin, 20/1
5. Mucho Macho Man (FL), R Maragh, K Ritvo, 9/5
6. Liondrive (LA), J Graham, T A Ice, 50/1
7. Machen (KY), E S Prado, N J Howard, 7/2
8. Majestic Harbor (KY), C J Lanerie, P J McGee, 12/1
9. Le Mans (KY), R Albarado, S M Asmussen, 20/1
10. Wilkinson (KY), G K Gomez, N J Howard, 8/1
11. Left (KY), J M Campbell, A M Stall Jr., 10/1
12. Elite Alex (ON), C H Borel, T F Ritchey, 6/1
13. Populist Politics (LA), R E Eramia, T M Amoss, 30/1
a - Coupled Entry
All carry 122 pounds.