Suffolk Downs Race Report (Cont.)

Orseno took some heat from the press before the MassCap for predicting off one allowance win at Gulfsteam Park, albeit against a very nice European invader Hail The Chief, that Macho Uno would be Horse of the Year for 2002.

"It was a bold statement," admitted the 46-year-old Philadelphia native after the race. "Usually, it's the owners who have their heads in the clouds and are dreaming more than the trainer. But I said it to Frank, and Frank said, 'you know, Joe, maybe we should just take them one at a time.' It kind of put my feet back on the ground.

"That's what makes it a pretty good team," continued Orseno. "Horse of the Year is our goal, but we're just going to take it one at a time. This was the next hurdle."

Stevens was asked about a possible meeting with Congaree, impressive winner of the Lone Star Handicap (gr. III) on Memorial Day. "I don't want to speculate on that," dodged the reinsman. "Congaree is coming off a long layoff. This is Macho Uno's second race off a layoff. I'm sure they're going to hook heads later this year. But I'm pretty happy with the mount I have today."

Orseno, however, did commit to Macho Uno's next appearance, providing he comes out of the MassCap none the worse for wear.

"Our next race is the Suburban Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park on July 6," said Orseno. "It (Suburban) gives Macho Uno 33 days off of this race after he had 69 days coming into this race. So he's ready to come back now. He was revved up to go today.

"After the Suburban," continued Orseno, "we'll discuss it, but we had talked about the Whitney (gr. I) on Aug. 3 at Saratoga. From there, there's a couple of three-race schemes that we might be able to do or two races before the Breeders' Cup. The main thing is we want to have enough horse left for Oct. 26. We're not going to overdo it."

All in the Family

Macho Uno's breeding is impeccable. He is by Horse of the Year Holy Bull, but his dam, Primal Force, who is owned by Stronach, is even more interesting. Bred in 1987 by Bert and Diane Firestone, Primal Force won four of eight starts in two years of racing, earning $74,251.

The 2000 Broodmare of the Year has had three runners who have reached the track, all winners, and two of them--Awesome Again and Macho Uno--have won Breeders' Cup races. In 1994 she dropped the Deputy Minister colt named Awesome Again, who won nine of 12 races and $4.3 million, including the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), Whitney Handicap (gr. I), Stephen Foster (gr. II), Saratoga Breeders' Cup (gr. II), and the Jim Dandy (gr. II).

Her 1995 filly by Storm Cat died. In 1996, Macho Uno's full brother, Awesome Bull, was foaled but died before he could get to the races. Then, in 1997, her Devil's Bag colt also died. She has produced four fillies since Macho Uno: a 3-year-old by Siphon; 2-year-old by Touch Gold; a yearling by El Prado; and this year one by Silver Charm.

Orseno and Stronach feel breeding your own horses makes success that much more satisfying.

"It's very rewarding," smiled Orseno in the afterglow of the MassCap victory. "Mr. Stronach bred Macho Uno on his son's (Andy Stronach) advice on the mating. We've had him since he was a baby. When you buy a horse I don't think it's as rewarding as when you raise a horse and put him or her through your program."

"Danny Vella had him on the farm," continued Orseno. "Then I sent him back to the farm after the Breeders' Cup and we got him ready again. It's kind of a team effort. It picks everybody's head up. I'm not saying we were going in the wrong direction, but a day like today makes everyone want to do it even more. The goals that we set we're starting to reach."

Recent Horses of the Year Cigar and Skip Away used the MassCap as a springboard to their titles. Could Macho Uno join this select list? Seeing is believing. b