Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Mucho Macho Man put in his last local work Feb. 22 at Gulfstream Park, going five furlongs in 1:02.56 on the main track at the South Florida oval.
On Feb. 23, the Florida-bred son of Macho Uno will leave for California where he will have one more work at Santa Anita Park before starting in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) March 8.
Under regular exercise rider Nick Petro, Mucho Macho Man went out at 6:30 a.m. EST and was caught in splits of :24.99 and :37.40, galloping out six furlongs in 1:15.63 down the middle of the track.
"The track was fast today, so we figured we'd take care of him," trainer Kathy Ritvo said. "He went five-eighths off the fence, just nice and easy. He galloped out very well and he came back great, and he'll travel tomorrow."
Mucho Macho Man won the Awesome Again (gr. I ) and Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita last fall, and was second by a half-length to Fort Larned in the 2012 Classic there.
"Hopefully, it will be the same as it was before, and he'll have a good trip out there," Ritvo said. "He likes it there. It's cool at night and pretty nice during the day, so it's good horse weather. It's nice to go out there. He's had so much success out there, so it's nice to go. We're looking forward to it, and he's doing so well it's hard not to be excited."
Mucho Macho Man made his 6-year-old debut a stirring one Jan. 18, winning the Florida Sunshine Millions Stakes at Gulfstream by 14 lengths.
Accompanying Mucho Macho Man to California will be Ritvo, Petro, racing manager Finn Green, and the big bay's hotwalker and groom, along with stable pony Oreo.
"Everybody goes with him, and we stay the same all the time. He has a routine when we ship," Ritvo said. "We ship him with another horse we have and that keeps him comfortable because he knows someone from his place is going. We all stay with him, so it makes for a smooth transition. It works really well for us."
The Santa Anita Handicap will be the first start for Mucho Macho Man since Frank Stronach's Adena Springs purchased a share in the 6-year-old son of Adena-bred Macho Uno from owners Dean and Patti Reeves earlier this week (story here).
Mucho Macho Man will continue to run in the Reeves' colors and be trained by Ritvo and managed by Green. Upon his retirement, he will join the Adena Springs stallion roster.
"I'm really excited to be able to train for Mr. Stronach," Ritvo said. "I have never trained for him before, so it's exciting to be able to train for someone who has had so much success. It's great to have a great partner, and we know that he'll have a great place to retire and have a second career."