Mac the Man gave trainer Jeff Greenhill his first stakes win in Kentucky Jan. 5, taking the $50,000 Turfway Prevue at Turfway Park by an easy four lengths over Smokinindaboysroom.
Lew and Mike closed to be third, another 1 3/4 lengths back (VIDEO).
With comebacking jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr. in the irons, Mac the Man sat comfortably in third, a couple of lengths off the :22.55 and :45.83 pace set by Saint Arbor and his shadow, Smokinindaboysroom. Mac the Man angled out on the turn, led into the stretch, and won on cruise control, finishing the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18.31 over the Polytrack.
"I've ridden a couple of the other horses (in the field) before, and I had a feeling, from my experience, that I was on the best horse," Arroyo said. "My priority was to put him in a good position to fire early. Thank God he broke sharp enough to put him there. I've ridden a lot of nice horses, and this is a nice horse."
Mac the Man went off the 5-2 second choice and paid $7, $4.20, and $3.80.
"He won the Prevue prep (at Turfway Dec. 8) by eight-and-a-half," said Greenhill, "so I figured he likes this track and he likes this distance. He ran like he always does: he breaks sharp and takes himself back and comes running at the end."
Greenhill, 57, said Mac the Man should have won the $100,000 Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile at Presque Isle Downs
last September, but "he got in all kinds of trouble" to finish fourth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths.
The Turfway Prevue is the first of three local preps for Turfway's Spiral Stakes (gr. III) in March, the race that set 2011 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Animal Kingdom
up for his Classic success.
Asked whether the colt would try the second prep, the one-mile WEBN Stakes Feb. 2, Greenhill said, "I do think he will stretch out to two turns. He'd be a little more forwardly placed, but I think he'll go two turns."
Complicating the decision is Greenhill's other promising 3-year-old, Silver Tongued
, who closed with a rush to be fifth in the Turfway Prevue but is already proven at two turns. Like Mac the Man, Silver Tongued is owned by the trainer's wife, Sherri Greenhill.
Greenhill saddled his first horse in 1996 at the age of 41 after a career as a chemical engineer.
"This was a prep for Silver Tongued," the trainer said. "He was flying at the end. I may have to start looking at dodging one another. This will be the first time I nominate two to the Triple Crown. But I do think you'd have to try (Mac the Man) at two turns."
Bye Bye Bernie was making his first start since an Oct. 20 maiden win at Keeneland
"He broke slow and it looked like that hurt us," said trainer Kelly Breen. "A couple of horses came over on him. He probably needed this race."
Mac the Man was bred in Kentucky by St. George Farm and is by El Corredor out of Marchmont, by Mountain Cat. He has three wins and a second in six career starts and earnings of $85,390. The Turfway Prevue is his first stakes win.