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Mucho Macho Man Cruises in Awesome Again

Mucho Macho Man wins 2013 Awesome Again Stakes.
Photo: Benoit Photo
Mucho Macho Man tuned up for another try in the Breeders' Cup, winning the $250,000 Awesome Again Stakes by 4¼ lengths at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens earned back-to-back Grade 1 wins aboard Mucho Macho Man and Beholder in the Zenyatta Stakes, two of the five Grade 1 races with Breeders' Cup implications at the host track for the world championships.

Mucho Macho Man was runner-up in last year's BC Classic. Saturday's win gave him an automatic berth in the race on Nov. 2, with his entry fees paid.

"This horse only has to make up a neck from last year's Breeders' Cup Classic, and I think he's a bigger, stronger horse than he was last year," Stevens said.

The 5-year-old Florida-bred ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.30 and paid $5.20, $3.20 and $2.80 as the 9-5 favorite in the field of 10. Mucho Macho Man snapped a five-race skid with his first Grade 1 victory, and first win since the Suburban Handicap on July 7, 2012.

"He's got a big, beautiful stride," said Stevens, who launched a comeback earlier this year at 50.

Mucho Macho Man has been at Santa Anita for nearly three weeks.

"He seems to thrive here," trainer Kathy Ritvo said.

Paynter returned $4.40 and $4. Soi Phet, who was claimed for $16,000 in May, was another 2¼ lengths back in third and paid $12.60 to show.

Paynter was one of three entries trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. The 4-year-old colt overcame a life-threatening illness to race again in June, and showed Saturday that he can contend against top talent.

"He was behind there," Baffert said. "He took a lot of dirt; actually he settled pretty well and came wide. He was finishing up really well."



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