Photo: Eclipse Spotswire
They may only be overnight stakes, but Friday’s $90,000 Criminal Type Stakes, and Thursday’s Lotka Stakes for the same purse, have attracted a couple of very big names to consecutive weekday afternoons at Belmont Park.
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up, Mucho Macho Man will look to make a triumphant return in the mile-and-a-sixteenth Criminal Type, carded as the 3rd race on Friday. The 5-year-old millionaire hasn't made it back to the races since not being persevered with after disliking the track nearly five months ago in a sloppy edition of the Sunshine Millions Classic.
Expected to be a heavy favorite on Friday, only four others will test Reeves Racing runner in his return. The number may be small, but the quality is actually pretty high. Breaking from the 1 and 3 posts respectively are multiple stakes winners, Hymn Book and San Pablo. The former comes in off a third place finish in the Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs, while the latter disappointed last time when sixth in the Razorback Handicap at Oaklawn Park. Edgar Prado will have the mount on Mucho Macho Man, who will break from the five-hole as the 121 pound co-highweight. He will run with blinkers off in the Criminal Type.
Third in the Kentucky Derby in 2011, the son of Macho Uno won half of his six starts last year, including an ultra-impressive score at Belmont Park in the Grade 2 Suburban last July. While the Criminal Type is clearly just a restart to the season, Mucho Macho Man should be ready to account himself well. Showing a steady stream of workouts at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, the big horse is coming off a strong :48 second breeze on Saturday, the fastest of 31 at the distance.
One day earlier, the $90,000 Lotka, also scheduled as race 3, has attracted the returning My Happy Face. The daughter of Tiz Wonderful will be making her first start for trainer Chad Brown, after being transferred from the barn of Rudy Rodriguez, in the flat mile affair.
Much like Mucho Macho Man, My Happy Face was last seen at the races at Gulfstream Park. Second in the Forward Gal that day, she has never finished worse than that in five lifetime starts. After running a good second in her career debut, My Happy Face made a name for herself by winning a special weight at the Spa by 21 ¼ lengths on August 31. Validating that maiden breaking performance, the gray filly gave the topnotch, Dreaming of Julia everything she could possibly want in the Grade 1 Frizette in her next outing. After that, a gutsy win in the Grade 3 Tempted closed out a successful Juvenile season.
My Happy Face couldn’t match strides with the fleet Kauai Katie in Florida, but it was another solid performance that would have set her up well for a run at the Kentucky Oaks, but a virus knocked her off that trail. She has been working well for her new trainer, and looks to be the class of a seven-horse field in the Lotka, with the streaking Bliss looking like her toughest competition.