Shooting Star Thoroughbreds LLC’s Chance It was the undisputed king of the 2-year-olds in South Florida during the Spring and Summer Meets at Gulfstream Park while ranking among the fastest juveniles in the country in 2019.
The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained colt is scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in Saturday’s $100,000 Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream with the opportunity to establish himself as a 2020 Kentucky Derby prospect.
The Mucho Macho Man, a mile stakes for newly turned 3-year-olds, will kick off Gulfstream’s highly productive Derby trail that will culminate with the running of the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) March 28.
“As we got nearer to the time, you get more edgy, you get more anxious to get him back started,” Joseph said. “You just want him to come back good and show that he’s the same horse as he was as a 2-year-old.”
Chance It, the 9-5 morning-line favorite, most recently captured the $400,000 In Reality, the 1 1/16-mile final of the 2019 Florida Sire Stakes Series at Gulfstream Sept. 28, by 7 ¼ lengths. The son of Currency Swap also won the $100,000 Dr. Fager and finished second in the $200,000 Affirmed in the lucrative series for Florida-bred 2-year-olds.
Chance It, who finished second in his June 1 debut, bounced back to offer a brilliant 9 ¼-length triumph at Gulfstream June 29. The Florida-bred colt won the 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight race at Gulfstream in 1:03.95 while being wrapped up in the stretch, earning the fastest speed figure in the country produced by 2-year-old at the time and one that he matched in the Dr. Fager.
Joseph has been encouraged by Chance It’s training since the In Reality and is confident that the Florida-bred will prove to be more than merely a precious 2-year-old.
“He’s relaxed a lot. In his works, we put him behind horses and he switches off and relaxes. When you ask him to go, he goes. I think that’s a good asset if he’s going to become a really, really good horse,” Joseph said. “He’s showing all those qualities.”
Chance It, who breezed a half-mile in 46.12 seconds to record the fastest of 112 workouts at the distance at Gulfstream Park Sunday, will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, who was aboard for his In Reality romp.
In the Mucho Macho Man, Sagamore Farm LLC’s South Bend will be looking to rebound from his first career loss that came off three straight victories, including a triumph in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs.
“He’s doing good. It took him a little bit to adjust down here, but he’s doing fine. He’s worked three times and he’s worked well,” said trainer Stanley Hough, whose stable at Pal Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
The son of Algorithms debuted at Churchill Downs Sept. 14, closing from 10th on the turn into the stretch to prevail by a nose in a six-furlong sprint. The Hough trainee again closed from 10th to win a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance at Keeneland three weeks later before scoring at the Mucho Macho Man’s one-turn mile distance in the Street Sense, in which he lacked running room into the stretch before surging late to win by a length.
“He trained very well and did everything asked of him. He overcame a lot in his early races, all three of them really,” Hough said. “It’s not like he ran like some freak, but he did come from way off of it and found a way to win.”
South Bend tasted defeat for the first time in the Nov. 30 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), in which he raced close to the pace in the two-turn 1 1/16-mile stakes before weakening and finishing sixth.
“It was a very disappointing race. It was on a very muddy racetrack. We had a lot of rain that whole week. I’m not sure if he disliked the track or the two turns or what,” Hough said. “The winner he had beaten the time before going seven seven-eighths. He didn’t run his race for whatever reason. He does have talent. Maybe he’s a one-turn horse and the two turns got him or maybe he didn’t like the track.”
Regular rider Julien Leparoux has the mount aboard South Bend.
Andie Biancone and Limelight Stables Corp.’s Sole Volante enters the Mucho Macho Man undefeated in two starts, both on turf.
“We want to see if we can dream,” trainer Patrick Biancone said. “Hopefully, he can run as good on dirt as he does on turf. In the morning it makes no difference to him, but until you try you never know.”
Sole Volante debuted over the Gulfstream Park West turf course Oct. 12, closing from off the pace to score by three lengths going away. The gelded son of Karakontie came back to score a by two lengths in the mile Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream Park after rallying from 11th and last.
“I think in the future the longer the race the better for him. The timing is right,” Biancone said. “He has no problem with the kickback in the morning, but not under racing conditions. It’s more an education than anything else.
“He doesn’t need to win. We hope he runs good and finishes well,” he added. “The time is the right time. We can go back to the turf or we start to dream.”
Luca Panici, who was aboard for Sole Volante for his maiden-breaker, has the mount after recovering from a foot injury that had kept him out of action for the Pulpit, in which Jairo Rendon rode.
Stonehedge LLC’s Smash Factor will enter the Mucho Macho Man with the distinction of having notched a victory over Chance It. The Michael Yates-trained gelded son of Khozan and Chance It both debuted June 1 with Smash Factor registering a 1 ½-length front-running victory.
Smash Factor returned from a four-month layoff to finish second to Chance It in the In Reality. In has most recent start, he finished second in the Juvenile Sprint for Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park West Nov. 9. Jose Ortiz is scheduled to ride Smash Factor for the first time Saturday.
Screen Door Stables LLC’s As Seen On Tv got the better of Smash Factor in the Juvenile Sprint and will seek back-to-back stakes victories in the Mucho Macho Man. The Kelly Breen-trained son of Lookin At Lucky dueled with Smash Factor before edging away to a 1 ½-length victory in the 6 ½-furlong sprint.
As Seen On Tv, who had previously won his debut and finished second in the Smoke Glacken at Monmouth, will be ridden again by Paco Lopez.
Shadwell Stable’s Ashaar, a sharp 2 ½-length winner in his Nov. 3 debut at Belmont Park, will be seeking to rebound from a sixth-place finish in the Nashua (G3) at Aqueduct. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin named Joe Bravo to ride the son of Into Mischief.
Santa Rosa Racing Stables’ Inter Miami, an 8 ½-length debut winner in a Dec. 4 maiden race for $50,000 claimers, is slated to return in the Mucho Macho Man. The Alexis Delgado-trained son of Sky Mesa will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.