Awesome Again: Mucho Macho Man Flexes Muscles
Mucho Macho Man earned his long-anticipated first grade I victory and stamped his return ticket to the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) with an impressive performance in the $250,000 Awesome Again Stakes Sept. 28 at Santa Anita Park (VIDEO).
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens was aboard 8-5 pick Mucho Macho Man for the first time for trainer Kathy Ritvo and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing owned by Dean Reeves. The strapping 5-year-old horse overcame a wide trip to win by 4 1/4 lengths in a time of 1:48.30 for 1 1/8 miles on a fast track.
A close second to Fort Larned in last year's Classic after a stirring stretch battle, Mucho Macho Man won for the first time since the Suburban Handicap (gr. II) in July 2012. He had lost five races in a row.
The race was a "Win & You're In" challenge race for the BC Classic, guaranteeing Muchao Macho Man a fees-paid berth Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, where he seems quite comfortable.
A son of Macho Uno out of the Ponche mare Ponche de Leona, Mucho Macho Man was bred in Florida by John and Carole Rio.
Ritvo brought Mucho Macho Man to the West Coast Sept. 9 to prepare for the Awesome Again, which run as the Goodwood until last year, and said afterward that her charge would remain in Southern California to train for the Classic.
"I don't think it made much difference," she said of the early arrival. "He's a runner. He travels well. He seems to thrive here."
"The race was pretty much over at the three-eighths pole," Stevens said. "He has a tremendous stride and he runs the turns really well. He's very athletic. I let him stretch himself a little at the three-eighths pole and had him pick it up again at the quarter pole.
"He was behind there," Baffert said of Paynter. "He took a lot of dirt; actually he settled pretty well and came wide. He was finishing up really well. The winner ran a big race. He will continue on to the Breeders' Cup Classic. I liked his race."
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