Gulfstream News & Notes: Mucho Macho Man Steps Up Training at Gulfstream
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL- Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) hero Mucho Macho Man stepped up his preparation for his 2014 debut, breezing five furlongs in 1:00 Sunday at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old son of Macho Uno galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 under regular exercise rider Nick Petro Jr.
“He was just feeling so good, we let him do a little more today,” trainer Kathy Ritvo said. “He did great.” Ritvo said she, stable manager Finn Green, and owners Dean and Patti Reeves were still weighing their options for Mucho Macho Man’s next start. The $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 18 and the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) on Feb. 8 are two of those options at Gulfstream Park.
Mucho Macho Man’s connections announced on Dec. 4 that their strapping handicap star would return for a fifth racing season.“No one could have been happier than I was to get another year of great training from him. I know he got off to a slow start but he finished up the year great. He’s just showing all the right signs. He’s a pleasure. He’s very happy. He’s been doing very well since the Breeders’ Cup and has been training well since he got here. His coat looks great and his weight is great.”
Ritvo is hopeful Mucho Macho Man will campaign this year as an Eclipse champion.
“He got a little slow start, but he beat all the best horses when it counted,” Ritvo said. “I wouldn’t trade horses with anybody.”
Byrne Prepares Almost Famous for Gulfstream Derby
Trainer Patrick Byrne will be looking to ring in 2014 with Almost Famous in the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby in the one-mile New Year’s Day feature. Owned by Chuck and Maribeth Sandford, the son of Unbridled’s Song stamped himself as a colt with a future in winning two of his three starts this fall, including a six-length success under optional-claiming conditions at Churchill Downs on November 9.The dark bay colt was entered in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) under the Twin Spires three weeks later, but was an 11th-hour scratch out of that event with a bruised hind hoof.
Almost Famous, a $500,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton sale last March, got back on the work tab with a four-furlong breeze in :48 2/5 seconds at Palm Meadows on December 18.
“He put in a nice work,” Byrne said. “I lost a couple of days with him when I had to scratch out of the Jockey Club in Kentucky, but he’s back and his foot is good.
“The Gulfstream Park Derby is a good spot for him,” Byrne added. “It wasn’t originally in my plans, but he’s acting like he wants to run and he’s doing well.”
Byrne, who became a household name in the late nineties with Breeders’ Cup winners Awesome Again, Countess Diana and Favorite Trick, won the 2012 Florida Derby (G1) for the Sandfords with Take Charge Indy. That $1-million event could be on the radar for Almost Famous as well.
“We’ll take it one race at a time, but obviously the Florida Derby would be a nice target, and we’ll go from there,” Byrne remarked. “Gulfstream is always a tough meeting.”
Casse Planning Ahead for Trio of Juveniles
Trainer Mark Casse issued an upbeat bulletin about a trio of juvenile colts in his Palm Meadows barn. Two of them, Coastline and Awesome Sky, are owned by John Oxley, while Conquest Titan carries the colors of Ernie Semersky and Dory Newell’s Conquest Stable. Both Coastline and Conquest Titan under consideration for the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) on January 25, while Awesome Sky will be looking for a softer spot.
A troubled fifth as the favorite in his second start in a Churchill Downs maiden on November 7, the gray colt rallied to finish third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at the Louisville oval on November 30.