Gulfstream News & Notes
Mucho Macho Man Camp to Consider a Run in Donn Handicap
Not originally on his schedule, the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) is, at least, a possible next start for Mucho Macho Man.
The 5-year-old son of Macho Uno is on the list of 17 names nominated for the 57th running of the 1 1/8-mile handicap on Feb. 9 at Gulfstream Park.
“We nominated him so we could have the option to consider it,” said Finn Green, stable manager for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, whose multiple-stakes winner has earned $2.3 million. “We won’t make that call until next Wednesday.”
The Kathy Ritvo-trained Mucho Macho Man, who closed out a successful 2012 campaign with a close second-place finish behind Fort Larned in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), turned in an uncharacteristic off-the-board finish in the $400,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 19.
After stalking the early pace over the sealed sloppy track, Mucho Macho Man stopped extending himself on the turn into the homestretch and was taken in hand by jockey Mike Smith.
“Between him and the racetrack the chemistry wasn’t good enough for a concert,” Green said.
Mucho Macho Man, whose only other poor performance in his 19-race career came over a sloppy track in a seventh-place finish in the 2011 Belmont Stakes (G1), came out of his 2013 debut in good order.
“It’s probably somewhere between a six and seven-furlong work,” said Green, estimating the exertion-output in Mucho Macho Man’s performance in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic. “That’s what we’ve considered it to be. It did not deplete him at all.”
McPeek has ‘Ticket’ for Handicap Success
Golden Ticket was also nominated for the Donn after his sharp 2013 debut at Gulfstream last weekend, but the Ken McPeek-trained 4-year-old isn’t expected to be asked to run back with only two weeks rest.
The son of Speightstown, though, looked like he could be a force in the handicap division this year while winning a stakes-caliber optional allowance race last Saturday by more than five lengths. Golden Ticket, whose only previous wins in 13 starts came in a maiden test at Gulfstream last February and a dead-heat victory with Alpha in the Travers (G1) at Saratoga, was followed to the wire by O’Prado Again and Rightfully So.
“He’s back. He’s a good horse. The Travers isn’t a fluke,” McPeek said.
Golden Ticket had previously finished 11th in the Hollywood Derby (G1) on turf in his 3-year-old finale on Nov. 25.
“It was a test running him on the grass in his last one. We felt like we need to run him in more 3-year-old graded types of stakes,” McPeek said. “Now he’s back on the surface he belongs on. I think it’s going to be a big year for him.”
Things didn’t go as well for the McPeek-trained Frac Daddy in Saturday’s $400,000 Holy Bull (G3), in which he finished sixth. The son of Scat Daddy came out of the nasty gash in the left front foot during the running of the stakes won by Itsmyluckyday.
“I don’t know when he did it, whether he did it coming out or the gate or pulling up,” McPeek said. “He’ll probably miss 4 or 5 days, but it could be as long as two weeks, depending on how sore it is.”
Motion to Stick with Winning Formula
Cerro, who made an impressive dirt debut in a Gulfstream allowance last weekend, is expected to go back to the grass for his next start in the $150,000 Palm Beach (G3) instead of returning in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) on Feb. 23.
“He’s got a lot of turf pedigree. We already know he handles the grass and he handles dirt too. The Palm Beach might be a good option, rather than throw him into a race like the Fountain of Youth,” trainer Graham Motion said. “We feel like it’s a little bit early for that, for him.”
Should all go well in the Palm Beach, Motion said the Irish-bred Italian import could earn his way to the Derby in the $500,000 Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park on March 23.
Motion prepped Animal Kingdom for his 2011 Kentucky Derby triumph with a Gulfstream grass race, in which he finished second, and the Spiral Stakes, which he won to earn his way into the Derby field. Last year, Motion saddled Went the Day Well for a fourth-place Kentucky Derby finish after breaking his maiden over Gulfstream’s main track and winning the Spiral by more than four lengths.