Gulfstream Park News & Notes
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - No decision has been made on where Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Mucho Macho Man will make his next start, but he left no doubt Saturday morning that he is ready to run.
Hitting Gulfstream Park’s main track shortly before sunrise, the 6-year-old Florida-bred fan favorite blazed a half-mile in 46.91 seconds and galloped out five furlongs in 59.50 under regular exercise rider Nick Petro.
It was the first work for Mucho Macho Man since opening his campaign with a dominant 14-length victory in the $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream on Jan. 18 – his third straight win following the Awesome Again (G1) and BC Classic at Santa Anita.
“He looked great,” said Kathy Ritvo, who trains Mucho Macho Man for owners Dean and Patti Reeves. “It’s hard to say too much else. He worked very good today. He’s very happy and doing really well.”
Among the possible races for Mucho Macho Man are the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap (G1) on March 8, and the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 29 at Meydan Racecourse.
“We chose today to start working him to be able to have both races as options and let him tell us basically what race is going to be best,” said Reeves Thoroughbred Racing manager Finn Green. “We can use this work for either race; we haven’t decided yet. We’re in a very good place. He’s provided us with a very good place.”
Mucho Macho Man has already shown an affinity for Santa Anita, and a win in the World Cup would make him the richest Thoroughbred in racing history. To date, he has won nine of 24 lifetime starts with $5,580,410 in purse earnings.
“Kathy and I have always done what we believe is right for him at the time,” Green said. “We wouldn’t be considering going to Dubai if the horse was not on an upswing, putting on weight and doing really well. Plus, he’s a great shipper. We know he ships West really well; we might find out if he ships East.” Groupie Doll Was the One Buff Bradley Was ‘Waiting For’
As he prepared Groupie Doll for her career finale in Sunday’s $200,000 Hurricane Bertie (G3) at Gulfstream Park Saturday morning, trainer Buff Bradley took a moment to look back at the first seconds of his two-time champion’s life.
“I remember, when she came out, telling Kim, ‘This is the one we’ve been waiting for out of this mare,’” Bradley recalled the moment he and his wife Kim got their first glimpse of Groupie Doll. “She was a big, red, good-looking filly. She was big from the very start. Kim will tell you that. She’d say, ‘Your first words were: ‘This is the one we’ve been waiting for.’ Not knowing that she was going to be a graded-stakes champion, but we wanted a good filly out of that mare, because I wanted to keep a good filly for the broodmare band.”
Groupie Doll went on to achieve greatness, capturing the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and winning back-to-back Eclipse Awards as North America’s champion female sprinter the past two seasons. A few days after winning her second Breeders’ Cup race at Santa Anita in November, Groupie Doll was sold at auction for $3.1 million and will soon joining Mandy Pope’s glamorous broodmare band, joining the likes of 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace and 2011 Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty.
“My intentions were, when she was foaled, that she would be a part of the broodmare band some day. That didn’t work out, and it’s a good thing that it didn’t work out,” Bradley quipped.
Bradley and his father, Fred, not only bred and foaled Groupie Doll, but they campaigned her in partnership with longtime clients William Hurst and Brent Burns during a career in which she earned $2.5 million. While watching Pope help out Saturday morning by giving her $3.1 million baby a sponge bath outside Barn 6 on the Gulfstream backstretch, Bradley was confident that Groupie Doll will be in good hands following her last race in the Hurricane Bertie.
“Now I can go down the road to see her and, hopefully, I’ll see some of her babies too. We’re excited, when she has babies, just to see those going,” said Bradley, who is planning to breed Groupie Doll’s half-sister, To the House, a 5-year-old mare by Brahms.Groupie Doll has one more order of business before embarking on her broodmare career, taking on six challengers in Sunday’s 6 ½-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. The 6-5 morning-line favorite drew the No. 1 post.
“It’s not what we wanted, obviously, but she was due to get a bad draw eventually. She’s been drawing well in the Breeders’ Cup and other races,” Bradley said. “I think her ability will overcome that. It’ll probably make it a little tougher for her.”
Groupie Doll will be challenged by Heart Stealer, the Marty Wolfson-trained winner of the Sugar Swirl (G3), as well as Grade 1stakes-placed Jamaican Smoke and Wildcat Lily in the field of seven.
“Anytime you sprint, everything’s got to break right. You want to get a good clean trip,” said Bradley, who has given the return mount aboard Groupie Doll to Rajiv Maragh. “We just hope it gets done. I’d be so happy for Groupie and Mandy.
Uncaptured To Meet Will Take Charge Again
Uncaptured, honored with a Sovereign Award as Canada's Horse of the Year following his outstanding 2-year-old campaign in 2012, will be among the dark horse contenders in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) on Sunday at Gulfstream Park.
Owned by John Oxley and trained by Mark Casse, the dark bay colt captured six of his seven outings as a juvenile and capped that championship season with a victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. Among his beaten foes in that event was the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Will Take Charge, who wound up last in the 13-horse field. Their paths diverged last year, with Will Take Charge going on to become a major player at the top echelon, while Uncaptured had his picture taken only once in eight appearances. That victory came in the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes on July 30, when he defeated River Seven by a length at Fort Erie.
Uncaptured kicked off 2014 in the $100,000 Hal's Hope Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream, where he got caught six wide en route to a fourth-place finish behind Lea. He will get another crack at Will Take Charge, River Seven and Lea in the Donn.
“He’s been a good horse all along, as a 2-year-old and as a 3-year-old," Casse offered. "He’s training really well. He’s won over a million dollars. He’s a Grade 2 stakes winner. The only thing that is left for him to accomplish is to win a Grade 1.”
The 4-year-old son of Lion Heart drew the rail in the Donn, one post inside of Will Take Charge. He is listed at 10-1 on the morning line, and will carry 116 pounds in the nine-furlong Donn. He was ridden by Joel Rosario last time, but will be reunited with Miguel Mena, who has been in the irons for most of Uncaptured's career.
"Joel was going to ride him in the Donn, but a couple of weeks ago I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with him," Casse added. "So I didn’t want to hold Joel up and let him go. About a week ago I decided we would run here, so we got Miguel to come in and ride him.”