Mucho Macho Man, making his first start since the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), ran away from the field to win a $55,000 optional claiming allowance race by 5 3/4 lengths at Aqueduct Nov. 9 (VIDEO).
The 3-year-old bay colt by Macho Uno , one of three horses to compete in all three jewels of the Triple Crown this year, was ridden to victory by Ramon Dominguez.
Sent off as the narrow 7-5 second choice in the field of six, Mucho Macho Man certainly looked like he was ready to return to top company in the one-mile test, which he completed in 1:34.72 on a fast track. He broke on top from post 5, took command from favorite Southern Ridge early on the backstretch, and led by three lengths on the turn for home while racing a bit off the rail.
Mucho Macho Man increased his advantage to five lengths at mid-stretch and finished up handily under Dominguez.
“We just let him do what he wanted to do," said Kathy Ritvo, who conditions Mucho Mach Man for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Racing Stable. "He’s feeling really good today. He’s been training great, so I thought he would run well today.
"I really didn’t expect anything; I just wanted to get a good race into him for a comeback. We definitely have some options, but we’ll wait to see how he comes out of the race and go from there.”
Mucho Macho Man clipped off fractions of :23.63, :46.32, and 1:09.86, coming home the final quarter in :24.86.
Dominguez said Mucho Macho Man made the lead easily and raced "very much within himself."
"He was just on cruise control; turning for home he switched leads right and just took off again. Very, very, nice,” said Dominguez, who was aboard Mucho Mach Man for the first time in the Belmont when they finished seventh.
In improving his career mark to 3-3-3 in 12 starts, Mucho Macho Man bumped his earnings to $643,643.
Prior to the Belmont, Mucho Macho Man finished a troubled sixth in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Mucho Macho Man posted his first victory since the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) in February at Fair Grounds. He was later second in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II).
At Aqueduct, he previously had a pair of runner-up finishes behind To Honor and Serve in the Nashua and Remsen stakes (both gr. II) last year.
“It is wonderful to have him back," said co-owner Dean Reeves. "He looked very impressive out there today. He is a young 3-year-old and Kathy has done a tremendous job with him by taking the time needed and allowing him to mature. We hope he is going to be a major player next year.”
John and Carole Rio bred Mucho Macho Man in Florida. He is out of Ponche de Leona, by Ponche.
Under 119 pounds, Mucho Macho Man paid $4.90, $3.10, and $2.60. Gallant Fields was second, returning $4.90 and $3.50. Praetereo, the 121-pound high weight, paid $3.50 to show. Southern Ridge tired to fourth after stalking the winner to the quarter pole.