New Days for Caracortado

January 21, 2017 02:55pm
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Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Under the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains, at Santa Anita Park, on January 29, 2011, fans crowded behind the white fence of the path between the saddling area and the track to see the horses going to post. After 6/5 favorite, Jeranimo walked by, a man in the crowd asked, “Where is he? Where is he?”

On cue, the brilliant chestnut, 4-year-old gelding, with a white star on his forehead, appeared from the saddling area with his jockey, Joe Talamo, onboard wearing the green and white silks of Blahut Racing LLC, Donkey Island Racing LLC, & Kagele Brothers, Inc. Another man replied, as they watched the Cal-bred, multi-graded stakes winner, Caracortado, walk by, ”Yeah, his trainer’s cool.”

The horse they had come to see was Cal-bred, multi-stakes winner, Caracortado,who was making his turf stakes debut. The versatile son of Cat Dreams was a homebred for co-owning trainer, Mike Machowsky. It was Sunshine Millions Day and the popular chestnut gelding was entered in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf. On that sunny, cloudless day,  Talamo was smiling at the quarter pole as Caracortado rallied from fifth in the final three furlongs, romping to a half length victory over two-time Grade 1 winner, The Usual Q.T.

The versatile son of Cat Dreams had gained a large fan base because of his explosive turn of foot and saucy personality. He could go long or short distances on dirt, turf, and synthetic. The charismatic gelding was also known for loving Skittles, drinking beer, and having his own Twitter account. Trainer and co-owner, Mike Machowsky, named him Caracortado (Spanish for Scarface) because when he arrived at Machowsky Stable for training, he had a scar down the middle of his head. “Cara”, the chestnut gelding’s stable nickname, would take Machowsky on an exhilarating journey, where the Cal-bred gelding went undefeated in his first 4 races before winning the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, as they made their way on the 2010 Derby trail, that sent them to the Preakness, where he finished 7th.

After a six month break, Caracortado won his first start on turf and would go on to win the 2011 Grade 2 Del Mar Mile, which set him up nicely for the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint where he finished 5th after a wide trip. His last win is arguably, his most thrilling. The chestnut gelding came from out of the clouds in the 2012 Grade 3 Daytona Stakes, on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course after announcer, Trevor Denman, had counted him out, “Caracortado did not fire today!” It was estimated that the chestnut gelding ran his final sixteenth-of-a-mile in five seconds or under. Caracortado ended his career with $885,775 in earning (22: 9-2-4).

Plagued by a foot problem during the last part of the thoroughbred’s career, Machowsky, who had hoped to continue to race the chestnut gelding, came to the painful decision to retirement his horse.  Ten months ago, Caracortado left the Machowsky Stable.

In a conversation with Machowsky, he discussed his Caracortado days and said, “it was like catching lightning in a know how things happen in this business, sometimes in this business, you just get lucky.”

After breaking his maiden at Fairplex Park, Caracortado won his second race, an allowance race at Hollywood Park. Not long after that, Machowsky breezed him with one of his better horses, a Lido Palace son, Nextdoorneighbor (who’s still racing). “Cara” outran him. At that point, he thought he might have something special but never anticipated the heights they would reach.

“He was one of the smartest horses I’ve ever seen,” Machowsky said, “He would buck off his exercise rider, Amy Mullins, one of the best riders, in the mornings….He was pretty funny when he did it, he would just stand there and look at her, like, get back up, you idiot!....He was such a ham!”

After several successful attempts at alleviating the gelding’s problematic foot problem, Machowsky did not want to take a chance on the horse and retired him from racing.

Today, the charming gelding is thirty-six miles away from his former home, at Santa Anita Park, in Covina, California. Covina is at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, that is now the setting for the charming gelding’s new vocation. He is being re-trained for a new discipline, jumping, and was purchased by two California horsewomen who are charmed by the captivating chestnut. After speaking with the California trainer I discovered that the fans at the Sunshine Millions were right. Mike Machowsky is cool and Caracortado is still stealing hearts.

(All barn photos courtesy of the Machowksy Stable)


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Meet Mary Dixon Reynolds

Mary Dixon Reynolds’ passion for horses began at an early age. She grew up riding, showing and training Arabians. The great Curlin brought her into horse racing and the celebrated filly, Rachel Alexandra, solidified her love of the sport. The amateur handicapper found beginner's luck during her first outing to a racetrack, the now-defunct Colonial Downs near Richmond, Va.

From a small town in the the Tar Heel state, Mary Dixon studied English literature and journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for three years before graduating at Guilford College. She shares a passion for F. Scott Fitzgerald with her favorite writer, the late William L. Nack, whose books she possesses and are well worn from rereading.

Mary Dixon first appeared on Horse Racing Nation as a guest columnist, writing articles about California Chrome, his fan base, and the great filly Songbird. She aspires to bring new people into our sport and to promote thoroughbred aftercare, recognizing that for our sport to thrive, we must take care of our athletes after they leave the track

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