Mucho Macho Man gallant in defeat

September 02, 2012 05:52am
I just had a feeling that Mucho Macho Man would be defeated yesterday. Coming off a whale of a performance nearly two months earlier in the Suburban, I thought the Kathy Ritvo trainee was vulnerable at a track that he might not appreciate nearly as much as Belmont Park. Only adding to my hunch were the unplayable odds that I expected the son of Macho Uno to be sent off at in the prestigious Woodward. Sure enough, Mucho Macho Man was defeated at odds of 4-5, but I take neither joy in his defeat nor a sense of I was right about him losing the big race. In fact, I have even greater admiration for the strapping bay after his neck loss at the hands of To Honor and Serve.
Forget strapping, an adjective I often use to describe a robust thoroughbred, Mucho Macho Man is double strapping. This colt, owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, makes the size of Zenyatta look ordinary. As the race unfolded, I found it almost comical to see Stay Thirsty keep the big boy pinned on the rail for much of the race, as the impressive proportions of the favorite made the multiple graded stakes winner on his outside look like a greyhound trying to keep up with a thoroughbred. Keep up to him he did, though, just long enough to make the job of Mucho Macho Man that much tougher.
After breaking just a shade slow, Mike Smith let Mucho Macho Man speed up on the inside to gain an in-touch stalking position on the rail, and the rail would be where he would stay for much of the nine furlong race. It occurs to me if you have a horse somewhere between 17 and 18 hands, down on the rail might not be the best place to be. John Velasquez, on To Honor and Serve, and Javier Castellano, aboard Stay Thirsty, seemed as content as could be in keeping Mucho Macho Man stuck there as long as possible.
Straightening out I thought Mucho Macho Man was in deep trouble, but one little tug on the reigns from Mike Smith is all it took for him to push Trickmeister and Stay Thirsty out of his way like rag dolls, and set sail after To Honor and Serve. It looked like he may well get the job done, but the perfect trip To Honor and Serve had plenty in reserve, and as the two pulled clear of the rest, he was able to fight off the favorite by a neck.
To Honor and Serve ran a big race, but I could not help but be more impressed with the runner-up. I’m sure the work he had to do early in the stretch was factor enough in the narrow defeat, but more importantly, I hope that Mike Smith, or whoever rides Mucho Macho Man in the future, has learned to keep the big boy off the rail in the future. He needs to have free running room to keep those long legs moving. 
If he can be this good and this maneuverable considering the situation of the Woodward, I can only imagine what he would be like from the outside, at a race track with tons of room, like Belmont, and in a race at a classic distance, like the Jockey Club Gold Cup. It seems that the very young four-year-old (he’s a June foal) is still getting better. After yesterday, I think the Suburban performance may have been only the tip of the iceberg for Mucho Macho Man.


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Older Comments about Mucho Macho Man gallant in defeat...

I would go back to the point Matt made, also. MMM needs room to stretch out those long legs of his so that he can really got moving. Being on the rail may have saved him ground, but it sure impeded with the room he needed to suit his frame.
Good points and no argument from me Brian because I really like both these guys, but those two juvenile races were in November and the second one on the 27th, not July or even September. One thing I do like about both and their abilities to get a distance of ground is that they both broke their maidens in routes, not sprints.
While that career record is fact, Lazmannick, remember that the first two came as juveniles. Considering how late a foal Mucho Macho Man was, and the obvious time he needed to grow into his massive body, I find it pretty amazing that he was able to be graded stakes placed at two.
I’m a big fan of both, but an important thing to remember is that in four races between the two, To Honor and Serve has won three of them, and Mucho Macho Man one. I agree that being locked along the inside at Saratoga is usually not a good place to be. But neither is being wide around both turns in a two turn race. Let’s not forget that while MMM was locked along that inside, he was at least saving ground, and this through the entire race. THAS was four and then three wide on the clubhouse turn and three wide narrowing down to two wide around the far turn. And during this time MMM was never that far behind him. When they turned for home and MMM got clear and came at THAS, he had no excuse. The end result can be deciphered as either THAS dug in and refused to lose or that MMM needs his own way and can’t win those tough head to head duals in the stretch. I think one of the differences in THAS’s favor was the switch to John V., who fits his running style perfectly. John rode a great race, positioned THAS perfectly and made his move when he wanted to, not when he had to. With the way he stalked the pace, this is the first time that I have had confidence that THAS can get 10F and I also believe that he might be a better two turn horse than a one turn one. I’m not so confident that MMM will, especially since I can’t see where Macho Uno has sired a 10F winner and he’s been a sire for quite a while now.
Has anyone seen the head-on of this race? Coming down the lane, Velasquez impedes MMM by "herding" him 5 or 6 paths wide. Good race riding? Or cause for a takedown? I've heard compelling arguments on both sides. But I think MMM will still be favored over H&S should they face each other again in the JCGC.
I've been sticking up for Mike Smith for his rides on Royal Delta and saying it was more a matter of her not being on her "A" game than Mike losing due to a poor ride. Yesterday, however, is a horse of a different color. The rail on the main track surely did seem to be a hinderance throughout the day, and with a massive frame like MMM has, you've got to let him stretch his legs out and run. Get Dominguez back on him for the JCGC and BCC.
Mucho Macho Manis a great horse and ran a great race, but he still needs a Grade 1 win. Tough to beat the top shelf Bernardini colts in New York.
I hope that's not sarcasm, Icy. I never can tell with you. ;-)
Yesterday people at Saratoga were saying that the rail was not the place to be.
Nice to hear Shackleford is well and still retains his form. Much improvement from his 3yo year.
I love that you have love for my guy! That was his race to lose, and thanks to riding tactics, he did lose; however, like you said, he ran a huge race. Icy, I wouldn't say that Shackleford is in a downward plunge; he lost next out on a sloppy track, a surface he dislikes. He'll be back with a vengeance in the Kelso.
When he got beat 3 lengths by Shackleford and Caleb's Posse in 1:33.1 I though that was an excellent race considering the race retired one and sent the other into a downward plunge. I lost betting that race but I remembered that nice run and the fact he wasn't totally used.
It's been my experience that big horses run well at Saratoga especially if forced to the outside because of the depth of the main track where smaller horses struggle.

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Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

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