Mucho Macho Man established himself as a major
player in his division Saturday, taking the lead on the far turn and leaving a
stellar field in his wake en route to 2 ½-length victory over Hymn Book in the
Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park.
Under his new jockey, Hall of Famer Mike Smith, the 4-year-old Macho
Uno colt shadowed Trickmeister through early fractions of 23.06 and 45.68
seconds, with 7-5 choice To Honor and Serve in hot pursuit. Moving up on the
far turn in tandem with the favorite, Mucho Macho Man stuck a nose in front
approaching the quarter-pole and never looked back as he opened up on his six
rivals through the stretch, hitting the wire in 1:46.58 for the 1 1/8 miles.
Hymn Book, who stumbled leaving the gate, rallied from last to gain
second and was followed under the wire by Trickmeister, To Honor and Serve, Stay
Thirsty, Buffum and Endorsement. Caixa Eletronica was scratched.
“I knew he was a nice horse, but he really, really impressed
me,” said Smith, who came in from California
to ride Mucho Macho Man. “From the time I got on him he was so confident.
He left the gate in great order – for a big horse, he’s quick! I
mean, every step was a winning one. I couldn’t believe how easy he beat
[a strong field]. I mean, you put that bunch in the Breeders’ Cup
Classic, your favorite is going to come out of this race. He just ran them off
Trained by Kathy Ritvo for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Mucho Macho Man
has now won three of his four starts this year, including the Grade 2
Gulfstream Park Handicap and the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic. His only
loss came when he was third as the favorite in the Grade 2 Alysheba at Churchill
Downs on May 4 immediately prior to the Suburban.
The 5-1 fourth choice, Mucho Macho Man returned $13.60 for a $2 win bet
and earned $210,000, lifting his bankroll to $1,306,410 with a lifetime record
of 6-3-4 from 16 starts.
“It was an awesome job by Mike Smith, Kathy [Ritvo], and everyone
involved,” said winning owner Dean Reeves. “I’m so happy for
my horse. He ran a good race, a solid race. This is really an extraordinary
horse. He beat a great field of horses today.”
Hymn Book, the 2012 Donn Handicap winner who was one of three Grade 1
winners in the field along with To Honor and Serve (2011 Cigar Mile) and Stay
Thirsty (2011 Travers), finished three lengths ahead of Trickmeister after
dropping more than a dozen lengths out of it at the start.
“It’s just a shame we gave up that much at the
break,” said Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey of Hymn Book, was second
in the 2011 Suburban. “He stumbled leaving there, and by the time [jockey
Alan Garcia] had him gathered up they were going pretty fast. He just got too
far out of it to try to make up that much ground against that kind of horses.
He passed all of them but one. I’m disappointed because I think if he
could have been in a good position then he would have had a chance, but
I’m pleased with the way he ran.”
The next start for Mucho Macho Man, who is stabled at Saratoga Race
Course, could be the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap on August 4 or the Grade 1
Woodward on September 1, both at 1 1/8 miles.
“We’re going to take it slow and see what happens,”
said Ritvo. “We’ll make sure he comes back great and we’ll
look again [at what’s next].”