Gulfstream Notes: 'Mucho' Cool & Calm, Musical Romance Probable, Ortiz Rides First Winner
‘Macho Man’ Cool and Calm after Gulfstream Park Handicap Win
Mucho Macho Man grazed on a small patch of grass on the Gulfstream Park backstretch Sunday, stopping on occasion to bask in the morning sun and calmly survey his surroundings outside Barn 4.
The 4-year-old colt, who captured Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) by an authoritative two lengths, definitely has learned when to turn it on and when to turn it off.
“He’s so professional,” said trainer Kathy Ritvo while casting an admiring eye toward her stable star. “He’s definitely maturing. He’s definitely more serious and more focused than he was, but he’s always been good. He always keeps himself together. He never gets nervous.”
Mucho Macho Man was as dominating as he was professional while outrunning his four rivals with his long, ground-devouring strides and collecting his third straight convincing victory since returning from a five-month layoff.
“It’s been fun. I’m really excited for the horse. Now he’s got three in a row, so it’s nice,” Ritvo said. “He’s put together three nice races in a row.”
Shortly after settling Mucho Macho Man in fourth place leaving the chute on the backstretch, jockey Ramon Dominguez made a decisive move to guide the 3-5 favorite through and opening and pull alongside pacesetter Tackleberry. From that point midway down the backstretch, Mucho Macho Man was in complete control, closely shadowing the pacesetter before moving to the lead leaving the turn into the homestretch and drawing away to victory.
“He made a nice move,” Ritvo said. “I think it was the right move. I totally trust Ramon. He’s a great rider.”
The son of Macho Uno, who finished third in last year’s Kentucky Derby, demonstrated a measure of versatility while cutting back in distance to a one-turn mile Saturday after capturing the two-turn Florida Sunshine Millions Classic at 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream in his prior start.
“I think he just loves to race,” said Ritvo, who trains the strapping colt who stands more than 17.2 hands for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Racing.
No firm decision has been made concerning Mucho Macho Man’s next start.
“He looks great today, but I want to make sure nothing comes up before we decide what we’re going to do with him,” Ritvo said. “We’ll do some blood work on him and send him back to the track.”
Tackleberry, who was making his first start since last May, held well to finish a half-length ahead of Jackson Bend, the 7-5 second choice who stumbled at the start.
“I knew he was going to run good. It was just a matter how far he’d go. There wasn’t a lot of speed in the race, so I knew he had to go. He might have gotten a little tired at the end, but he’s only been here five weeks,” said trainer Luis Olivares, who trains the Florida-bred gelding at Calder. “I wish I would have had a little more time.”
Olivares, who ventured to the Gulfstream winner’s circle to congratulate the connections of Mucho Macho Man, said he hasn’t made a firm commitment on a next start for Tackleberry.
“I wish I had another race to run at Gulfstream, but I don’t,” said Olivares, whose gelding captured three stakes at the 2011 Gulfstream meeting.
Musical Romance ‘Probable’ for Inside Information
Pinnacle Racing and Bill Kaplan’s 5-year-old mare Musical Romance closed out an Eclipse Award campaign in 2011 winning the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4, but her 2012 season debut did not go well when she finished fourth in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28.
A Florida-bred daughter of Concorde’s Tune, Musical Romance appears likely to get her campaign back on track as one of the favorites in Saturday’s $150,000 Inside Information Stakes (G2) at the seven-furlong distance of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. Musical Romance was off to an awkward start, steadied on the turn, and lost part of her shoe in the Sunshine Millions.
“Right now she’s probable for the race,” said Kaplan Sunday morning. “She grabbed herself pretty good coming out of the gate. A horse outside of her acted up just as the gate opened. She also bent a shoe and took a piece of a quarter off. There was actually a small puncture wound (foot), but she‘s fine now and ready to go.”
The status of another accomplished nominee for the Inside Information is less certain as owner-breeder-trainer Amy Tarrant was undecided Sunday morning whether she would run her 4-year-old filly Pomeroys Pistol, who also had an off day in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint, finishing one place behind Musical Romance in fifth.
“I’m still feeling a little guilty about running her in that race. I think I made a mistake running her back too quickly after her last race,” said Tarrant Sunday morning from Palm Meadows. “I’m probably not going to decide until entry day (Wednesday). Another option is the race at Keeneland,” referring to the $300,000 Vinery Madison Stakes (G1) on Apr. 12 at seven furlongs.
A Florida homebred daughter of Pomeroy, Pomeroys Pistol won the seven-furlong Forward Gal Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream early last year and finished a good fourth behind Musical Romance in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. She won the six-furlong Sugar Swirl Stakes (G3) here on Dec. 10 before her disappointing effort in the Sunshine Millions.
Apprentice Yomar Ortiz Rides First Winner of Career at Gulfstream
Apprentice jockey Yomar Ortiz rode the first winner of his young career in yesterday’s sixth racing at Gulfstream Park. The 21-year-old native of Puerto Rico slipped longshot Headingtothecity through a hole along the inside during the stretch run to claim win No. 1.
“It’s very emotional,” said Ortiz through an interpreter following the winner’s circle ceremony. “Everything was perfect.”
Ortiz, who attended a jockey school in Puerto Rico for two years, had ridden 23 mounts since launching his career on Jan. 1 before winning aboard the Oscar Barrera Jr.-trained 17-1 longshot.
“I felt good. I just followed the pace and saw a hole and went through it,” said Ortiz before being drenched with water and shaving cream by his fellow jockeys in the traditional celebration of his first win.