Gulfstream News & Notes - March 5

Gulfstream News & Notes - March 5


 HALLANDALE BEACH, FL -  Mucho Macho Man, a leading contender for this year’s Kentucky Derby (G1), breezed four furlongs at Gulfstream Park Saturday under exercise rider Mike Heera.

The 3-year-old son of Macho Uno was clocked in 48.50 seconds in preparation for a start in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds on March 26. It was the eighth fastest clocking of 32 recorded at the distance.

“He went great. It was just what we wanted,” said trainer Kathy Ritvo, who was particularly pleased with the manner in which Mucho Macho Man finished during the work. “He’s been great, super, just like his old self. He’s come out of his race very well,”

Mucho Macho Man, who concluded his 2010 campaign with a pair of runner-up finishes behind To Honor and Serve at 1-1/8 miles in the Nashua (G2) and Remsen (G2), began his 3-year-old campaign with a fourth-place finish in the one-mile, one-turn Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream on Jan. 30.

The Florida-bred colt rebounded impressively with a 1-1/2-length triumph in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) on Feb. 19 at Fair Grounds, where he negotiated the two turns and 1-1/16-mile distance in 1:43 4/5. His professional performance, in which he relaxed just off the early pace while racing without blinkers for the first time prompted Ritvo to schedule the 1-1/8-mile Louisiana Derby as Mucho Macho Man’s final Kentucky Derby prep.

“I think the distance will be good for him. I think he likes the track and definitely the two turns,” said Ritvo, who will work her colt two more times before shipping to Fair Grounds in the middle of Louisiana Derby week. “He’s definitely more mature than he was when we were back in New York.”

Mucho Macho Man will be ridden again by Rajiv Maragh, who was a last-minute replacement in the Risen Star for regular rider Eibar Coa, who was hospitalized with a broken C4 vertebra in a racing spill at Gulfstream the day before the race. The colt’s majority owner Dean Reeves visited Coa in Memorial Regional Hospital  Friday to present him with a check for $18,000, the amount of the winning jockey’s share of the Risen Star purse.

Mucho Macho Man’s success has been a career highlight for his trainer, Kathy Ritvo, who received a heart transplant in November 2008.

“It’s amazing; it’s amazing; it’s amazing,” Ritvo said. “Every day is a great day to have my health and have a good horse. I’m so blessed, so lucky.”

Mucho Macho Man was joined on the Gulfstream work tab by Rogue Romance, who is also scheduled to run in the Louisiana Derby. The Ken McPeek-trained colt, who closed to finish third behind the Ritvo trainee in the Risen Star, breezed four furlongs in 48.60 seconds.

The McPeek-trained Kathmanblu, who will accompany Rogue Romance to Louisiana to run in the Fair Ground Oaks (G2) the same day, breezed four furlongs in 50.80 seconds. Kathmanblu, who captured the Sweetest Chant over the Gulfstream turf on Jan. 22, captured the Rachel Alexandra (G3) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 19

Golden Moka Set to Return in Wednesday Allowance

Trainer Brian Lynch had Natalie Douglas and Good Friends Stable’s Golden Moka ready to launch his South Florida winter campaign in the $100,000 Fred Hooper Handicap (G3) on Dec. 11 at Calder Race Course, but his return was delayed by illness. The 4-year-old is now entered to make his 2011 season debut in Wednesday’s $59,300 optional/allowance feature going one mile at Gulfstream Park.

“He came up with an intestinal problem that week” said Lynch Saturday morning from Palm Meadows. “He got very sick and ended up in the (equine) hospital. He finally got over it without surgery, but essentially missed a whole month of training.

“He’s come back very well and worked good this morning (half-mile in 48 3/5 at Palm Meadows, second fastest of 49 timed at the distance.). This is a good spot to come back and I like that he drew the outside post. In a perfect world, the first major target for him this year will be the ($300,000) Alysheba Stakes (G3) the day before the (Kentucky) Derby (May 6) at Churchill Downs.”

Golden Moka was a good story in 2010 as he won the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie by 2 ¾ lengths on July 25 in his first start of the year after winning all three of his starts as a 2-year-old in Panama for previous connections. Bred in Canada, by Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs Farm, the son of Golden Missile was originally an $8,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase.

Through friends in Panama, former jockey Rene Douglas received tapes of Golden Moka’s three races there and negotiated his private purchase to a partnership of his wife Natalie and several friends. In two starts after the Prince of Wales, Golden Moka finished fifth at 2-to-1 in the Super Derby (G2) at Louisiana in late September and fifth last out as the 5-to-2 favorite in the Discovery Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct on Nov. 20.

At Douglas’ request, his friend Sebastian Madrid was set to ride Golden Moka in the Fred Hooper and will now be aboard in Wednesday’s race.

Golden Moka faces five rival older horses in Wednesday’s race with Stronach Stable’s 4-year-old Kentucky homebred colt Hunters Bay among his most formidable rivals and Elvis Trujillo named to ride for trainer Reade Baker. Douglas was seriously injured in a spill at Arlington Park in May of 2009 and left paralyzed from the waist down.

A son of Ghostzapper, Golden Moka won his last two of three starts last year at Belmont Park and Monmouth Park for trainer Todd Pletcher, and ran a big race over the Gulfstream track and on-mile distance on Feb. 12 to finish second in a similar allowance race, beaten 1 ¼ lengths in his first start since the July 3 victory at Monmouth in his first start for Baker.

Completing the field are LMR Stables’ 6-year-old Caixa Eletronica, Luis Saez; John Gunther’s Jaquar Paw, Julien Leparoux; Ol Memorial Stable and C.E. Glasscock’s Dueling Alex, Jose Lezcano; and Gary and Mary West’s Day of Destiny, Javier Castellano.