Pletcher Makes Right Call With Tommy Macho in Fred Hooper

HorseRacingNation.com
February 06, 2016 09:17am
Tommy Macho wins 2016 Fred Hooper
Photo: Gulfstream Park

Trainer Todd Pletcher called an audible last Wednesday opting to enter Tommy Macho into Saturday’s $100,000 Fred W. Hooper (G3) instead of the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1), the grand finale of the six-stakes portion of Gulfstream Park’s 13-race program.

The change in plans resulted in a dominating 3 ¾-length triumph in the mile stakes for older horses, suggesting that the 7-2 third betting choice would have been highly competitive in Saturday’s main feature.

Owned by Paul Pompa Jr. and J Stables, Tommy Macho ran the mile in 1:33.53, just two-fifths of a second off Normandy Invasion’s 2014 track record.

“I think it puts us in a position where we have a lot of options, the Gulfstream Handicap being one of them,” said Pletcher, referring to the mile $500,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) March 5. “We think he’s proven he’s effective at a mile and a mile and an eighth. We like what he’s done since he’s been down here this winter. He mentally matured a bit. He behaved really well in the paddock. He’s gained weight. He’s filled out into a nice 4-year-old.”

The 4-year-old son of Macho Uno settled off the pace under Luis Saez as Wildcat Red went to the lead, pressed by Just Call Kenny and Pletcher-trained Stanford along the backstretch. As Wildcat Red began to weaken on the turn, Just Call Kenney took the lead into the stretch with Stanford in hot pursuit. Tommy Macho made a four-wide move on the turn to loom boldly into the stretch before surging past his stablemate to win going away.

 “We tried to break and be close but there was a lot of speed in the race. We found a better spot and when we came to the three-eighths pole, half-mile pole we came out and he just took off,” Saez said. “He was very comfortable the whole way. I was worried a little bit because he’s always run up close but today when I felt the pace, I thought we had a big shot here.”

Stanford finished second under Joel Rosario, six lengths clear of third-place finisher Grande Shores and Edgard Zayas.

“I think Stanford, considering the long layoff, ran well,” Pletcher said. “He’s been training well and he ran well. I’m glad he did.”

Tommy Macho won for the fourth time in nine career starts, including a victory in the Discovery Handicap (g3) at Aqueduct Nov. 11, when he pressed the early pace before drawing away to a 4 ½-length victory.

“He got away in a little bit of a tangle (Saturday) and was further back than I thought he would be,” Pletcher said. “He put in a beautiful run on the turn and ran well.”

Ami’s Flatter, the 6-5 favorite, was never a factor in a fourth-place finish, a neck behind Grande Shores.

Source: Gulfstream Park

 

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