Thursday of Derby week in my household means one thing -- securing enough mint to begin the maturation process of my secret syrup base to be used in Saturday’s mint juleps. Once I smell that fresh mint on my fingers, it’s yet another enforcement that The Derby is indeed within 48 hours of actually happening! Did I mention this is my favorite week of the year? My friends and family think my fascination with The Derby was fate since my birthday occurs on the day the first Kentucky Derby was ever run on May 17th way back in 1875 when Aristides’ name became revered in Derby lore.
Profile: Mucho Macho Man (presented by 3M Corporation) reminds me of Arch3 in a couple respects (other than the naming pattern!). He’s a big lanky colt who rarely throws in a clunker and is versatile in running style, although it now seems more likely that MMM will be closer to the pace from the 13 hole than Arch3, who is buried down on the rail. About two months ago I felt he was a top-caliber horse, but a couple of events have led to a few uncertainties with this son of previous juvenile champion Macho Uno. He ran a decent third in the LA Derby, but he threw a shoe at the start and came back a little sore in that hoof. In my opinion, this was probably more significant than the diarrhea excuse made for Uncle Mo.
Two races back in the Risen Star – also at Fair Grounds – he had a nice victory after basically making the lead at the half mile pole due to a dawdling pace (:49.1) but finished well in the stretch to hold off Santiva with relative ease. In his 2011 comeback race in the Holy Bull, he raced on the lead through pretty quick fractions and faded to fourth, similar to Arch3’s Smarty Jones Stakes race at Oaklawn where he also found himself rarely on the lead and finished fourth. So the fear is that he could be keyed-up on Saturday and show too much speed from post #13 trying to get over to the rail into the first turn and that would significantly hurt his chances.
Finally, with the six week gap between starts, you wonder if he has held his condition enough without many spectacular workouts. Yet I still expect him to be well-backed on Saturday, especially since he is likely to draw some money away from Arch3 due to his poor post position down on the rail. Kathy Ritvo would be the first female trainer to win The Derby, just one of this colt’s interesting bylines. The trainer is a heart transplant survivor, his former jockey Eibar Coa miraculously walked out of a hospital this April just two months after breaking his C-4 vertebra during a race, and some members of the original partner group contributed a paltry $800 for their 1% share of this horse that was thought to be a stillborn foal. Yet he is at Churchill Downs as a major contender in spite of all these travails. Pretty ironic that after all that he draws post #13, huh? How can you bet against that!