Mucho Macho Man, who ran in all three Triple Crown races last season before getting a freshening, started off his 4-year-old campaign in promising fashion by scoring over six fellow Florida-breds in the $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park (VIDEO).
The son of Macho Uno, who races for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream One Racing Stable, was sent off the 2-1 second-choice in the Classic. He was able to sit in a comfortable stalking position early under rider Ramon Dominguez. Turbo Compressor, just outside the Macho Man, went to the lead in the nine-furlong Classic and got away with easy early fractions of :24.31, :48.02, and 1:10.84.
Mucho Macho Man made his move approaching the quarter pole, getting the lead from Turbo the Compressor leaving the final bend. He won the race by opening up daylight in upper stretch. Ron the Greek found his best stride late and was gaining on the winner, but the three lengths that Mucho Macho Man led by proved too much to make up. Ron the Greek fell 1 1/2 lengths short at the wire. Turbo Compressor held third another length back. Mucho Macho Man covered the course over a fast track in 1:47.91.
“It was the absolute perfect trip," Dominguez noted. "We were right on the outside of the speed. He handled himself so well. He gave me the feeling every step of the way that whenever I was ready to ask he was ready to go. He gave me so much confidence. I was just a passenger today. You can really tell how much he’s grown up since I rode him in the Belmont. Back then, he was just a big skinny horse that had a lot of maturing to do. Now he looks like he’s grown up and has everything figured out.”
Adios Charlie, who had never been worse than second in six career starts, stalled as the 8-5 favorite and finished fifth in the field of seven.
Kathy Ritvo, whose comeback from heart disease was one of the prominent stories throughout last year’s Triple Crown, conditions the winner. Mucho Macho Man was bred by John and Carole Rio out of the Ponche mare Ponche de Leona.
"Ramon (Dominguez) did a great job.," said Ritvo. "Everything has gone well since we started back with him. When he came up to that other horse (Turbo Compressor on lead) I was confident he would go on from there. We’ll see how he comes out of it and then start to look for another race for him.”
Mucho Macho Man added $240,000 to his bankroll in the Classic, and has now earned $883,643 in his 13-race career. The four-time winner captured the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) last year before rolling a pair of thirds in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) and the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). The colt finished off the board in both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes (both gr. I).
Mucho Macho Man paid $6.20, $3.80, and $3.00. Ron the Greek, at 4-1, returned $5.20 and $3.60, while Turbo Compressor was good for $3.20. The $2 exacta returned $32.20. Duke of Mischief checked in fourth, while Decaf Again and Dream Maestro followed Adios Charlie home.