After the debacle in last year’s Sunshine Millions Classic, newly minted Grade 1 and Classic winner Mucho Macho Man returned to Gulfstream
Park this year seeking redemption. The bitter taste left in the mouth of the
strapping son of Macho Uno took a while to dissipate, especially after his
success in that very spot in 2012. After overcoming a couple of illnesses early
in the year, the sting of defeat eventually gave way to the sweet taste of
victory as the big guy rounded into form during the latter part of the year.
His return to form came just in time to capture two consecutive Grade 1 events,
including the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita. As has been the case since
he became eligible for the series, Mucho Macho Man is using the Sunshine
Millions Classic as his seasonal debut.
The field got off to a clean start, and with Gary Stevens in
the irons, Mucho Macho Man zipped out of the gate and went right to front with
Bernie the Maestro going with him. As Bernie the Maestro moved up on their
outside, Stevens took Mucho Macho Man back just a bit to let their rival by so
that they could move to the outside. The Ramsey owned gelding struck the front
and pulled off to lead by two, setting fractions of 23:08 and 46:25. Rule
Number Six stalked the pace from third with Decaf Again, Joshua’s Comprise, and
Gourmet Dinner well out of contention early.
As Bernie the Maestro and Mucho Macho Man entered the turn,
Stevens gave his mount the cue. From that point on, the only question was by
how far Mucho Macho Man would win as he opened up by daylight over his
overmatched competitors. While the Horse of the Year and Older Male finalist
galloped comfortably along with pricked ears on the lead, Bernie the Maestro
gave way completely in the stretch and longshots Joshua’s Comprise and Decaf Again
moved up to take second and third respectively.
While well within himself, Mucho Macho Man stopped the clock
in 1.48:76, less than a second off the track record for 1 1/8 mile, and was clear by a whopping 14 lengths. As the
clear 1-9 favorite, Mucho Macho Man returned $2.20/$2.10/$2.10 for a $2 wager.
Second place finisher Joshua’s Comprise paid $13.60/$6.00, and Decaf Again paid
$6.20 for finishing third. The order of finish was completed by Bernie the
Maestro, Gourmet Dinner, and Rule Number Six.
The $240,000 winner’s share of the Classic’s $400,000 purse
pushed Mucho Macho Man’s career earnings over the $5.5 million mark. His facile
victory improved his overall record to 24: 9-5-6. With a defense of his Breeders’ Cup Classic title being the
year-end goal, fans will likely next see the big guy in the Grade 1 Donn
Handicap on February 9 or the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 8.
Based on the usual time table for Mucho Macho Man, the latter is more likely
than the former unless trainer Kathy Ritvo and owners Patti and Dean Reaves opt
to ship west and take a shot at the G1 Santa Anita Handicap, or overseas for the Dubai World Cup.