Mucho Macho Man, hero of Fair Grounds’ $350,000
Risen Star Stakes a little less than five weeks ago and the strong favorite for
Saturday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby, got back in town Wednesday from his Gulfstream Park
home base and galloped once around the Crescent City
oval Thursday morning immediately after the track renovation break.
The bay horse is big. Very big. Huge. Grande. Super-sized.
Seventeen hands and growing, leaving the gathering of his multiple owners and
attending media visitors somewhat awed when the colt emerged from his stall in
Barn 6 and headed toward the track under regular exercise rider Mike Heera.
“I think he looks a lot bigger now than he did when he was
here for the Risen Star,” said Dean Reeves of Reeves Thoroughbred Racing
with a nod of agreement from co-owner Jim Culver of Dream Team One
Trainer Kathy Ritvo, who accompanied the 2011 Triple
Crown candidate on the equine charter flight from South Florida to New
Orleans on Wednesday, was quick
“Sometimes, when I come to the barn in the mornings
this winter, I think he’s gotten bigger overnight,” Ritvo said. “But now, he’s
starting to fill out, too. He reminds me of a teenage athlete, a little
leggy and gangly at first but quickly growing into his body.”
Ritvo, as it is increasingly known, is a 41-year-old mother
of two who is a big story herself, doing very well in her own readjusting body
following a heart transplant in the fall of 2008.
“I’ve never had a horse as smart as this one is,” said
Ritvo. “Did you notice how when they were stretching his front legs when he was
still in the stall he stretched his back legs on his own, just like an athlete
would do? He knows how to take care of himself.
“He’s ready to run,” Ritvo added as she schooled the horse
in the Fair Grounds paddock following the gallop. “I’m sure he remembers he’s
back where he was last month and I think he knows what he’s supposed to do very
How does an owner feel in the last days before a big race
like Saturday’s Louisiana Derby – centerpiece event of the local racing season
and shortly to become the richest Thoroughbred race ever run in New
“I think inside you get a little anxious,” said Reeves,
“but in this business you also have to have some quiet confidence in your
horse. We just hope for a good race Saturday and hope we are fortunate enough
to win it.”