Mucho Macho Man breezed sharply Jan. 11 for his scheduled 2014 debut in the $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic scheduled for Jan. 18 at Gulfstream Park, while top female sprinter Groupie Doll was also on the tab.
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing's Mucho Macho Man, winner of the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park, worked four furlongs in :47 4/5 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 under regular exercise rider Nick Petro Jr.
The 6-year-old son of Macho Uno worked well off the inside rail and finished strongly through the stretch in preparation for his first start since capturing the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic.
"He worked great. It was nice to see him off the fence. It was a little deeper there," said trainer Kathy Ritvo, noting that the four-path work was by design. "He's a smart horse. He knows what he's doing. My job is easy."
Following the workout, Dean and Patti Reeves' stable manager Finn Green said the 1 1/8-mile Classic, which will anchor the six-race $1.3 million Sunshine Millions card, is the perfect starting point for Mucho Macho Man's 2014 campaign.
"There are multiple options off that race for us," Green said. "With the weather down here and the rain, we wanted to take the first short at a dry track that we could get. If it comes up wet we can go somewhere after that, but it launches us into February and March after that.
"If we get rained out of this race, we probably wouldn't stay here and take a chance to get rained out of the (Feb. 9) Donn Handicap (gr. I). We'd probably go to California and run in the race out there that is a prep for the (March 8) Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I)," added Green, referring to the San Antonio Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita on Feb. 8.
Mucho Macho Man, who has earned $5.3 million during four years of racing, captured the 2012 Sunshine Millions, but was pulled up in last year's edition due to his dislike for sloppy going. If the sun shines on Saturday, the Classic will be the first step toward his camp's ultimate goal of returning to Santa Anita at year's end for a Breeders' Cup Classic defense.
"This race also sets us up to go to several other places, even not in this country. The (March 29) Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) is an option," Green said. "We have three different paths we can go. One is the conventional route on dirt and the other two are on other surfaces. He's definitely a mile-and-a-quarter horse, so this race sets us up for a couple of races out in front of us."
Mucho Macho Man trained over the Tapeta synthetic surface at Fair Hill last spring and summer.
"They have Tapeta over there (in Dubai)," Green said. "He ran very well on Tapeta. We've worked him over it a couple times, and he had great action, great extension. But there are 100 and some-odd things that can go wrong between here and there and only one thing that can go right to go over there."
Mucho Macho Man was joined on the track Saturday morning by Groupie Doll, the two-time Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) winner who also breezed a half-mile in preparation for the final start of her brilliant career, possibly in the Hurricane Bertie Stakes (gr. III) on Feb. 9.
"It was kind of neat that she and Mucho Macho Man were standing out there together before they trained," trainer Buff Bradley said. "Then he took off and she went right after him."
The 6-year-old daughter of Bowman's Band breezed four furlongs in :49 4/5 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:02 4/5 under exercise rider Jada Schlenk.
"She went really good. I told Jada to go between :49 and :50," Bradley said. "She said she had a ton of horse and telling her, 'Whoa,' the whole way. She went easy and galloped out good. She's got a pretty good fitness level under her. She was at GoldMark (Farm) and they kept her going there, so that helped. We've got three more works, so we're good."
Groupie Doll, the reigning female sprint champion who is a lock to repeat at the 43rd Eclipse Award Ceremony at Gulfstream on Jan. 18, is scheduled to be bred to Tapit following her final start. She was purchased for $3.1 million by owner Mandy Pope at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale and ran fourth in the Nov. 30 Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I) last time out.
"This was a let's-find-out-where-she-is work. I was pleased with her fitness level and she galloped out really strong and galloped probably another three-eighths of a mile," Bradley said.