'Macho Man' Set For Derby Journey After Final Gulfstream Work
By Ed Gray and Jack Will
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – An NBC film crew was on hand to film Mucho Macho Man’s final work at Gulfstream Park Saturday before trainer Kathy Ritvo ships her Kentucky Derby hopeful to Churchill Downs on Sunday.
The 3-year-old son of Macho Uno, who was ridden by exercise rider Mike Herra, was timed in 1:23.3/5, handily, for seven furlongs in a light rain shower. Mucho Macho Man, who turned in fractions of :46 1/5, :58 and 1:10 4/5 on his way to his seven-furlong clocking, galloped out a mile in 1:38 3/5.
“I wanted him to get him a little tired. He’s not that tired. Look at him, he’s just bopping around,” said Ritvo, as her star 3-year-old walked past the grandstand on his way back to Barn 4 on the backstretch.
Ritvo designed the strong seven-furlong workout and gallop-out, keeping in mind that there will be six weeks between her colt’s last start and the Kentucky Derby. Mucho Macho Man, who captured the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 19, finished third in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at the New Orleans track on March 26 after pulling a shoe out of the gate.
“I was looking for a good work because we need to get on the road,” said Ritvo, satisfied that her colt received the benefit of a good, tiring workout.
The Florida-bred colt stamped himself as a Kentucky Derby candidate last fall, when he finished second in the Nashua (G2) and Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct to close out his 2-year-old campaign.
Ritvo, whose morning activities were being filmed for the Kentucky Derby broadcast on May 7, expects to work Mucho Macho Man twice at Churchill Downs in preparation for a start in the first jewel of the Triple Crown. Mucho Macho Man will be housed in the same stall that was occupied by Horse of the Year Zenyatta for last fall’s Breeders’ Cup.
“I’m very excited. I’m ready to go,” said Ritvo, who will be making her first trip to Churchill Downs. “We’re one work closer than we were last week.”
Kentucky Derby Prospect Pants On Fire Works Friday at Palm Meadows
Lori and George Hall’s Pants On Fire, upset winner of the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G1) at Fair Grounds on Mar. 26, drilled a ‘bullet’ five furlongs in 58 3/5 Friday morning at Palm Meadows for trainer Kelly Breen before heading to Louisville to make final preparations for the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs May 7.
The son of Jump Start made four starts this year, the first at Aqueduct on New Year’s Day and the last three at Fair Grounds while stabled and trained at Palm Meadows. Two other possible Kentucky Derby prospects that spent the winter at Palm Meadows but did not race at Gulfstream are in action Saturday afternoon.
Tom Walters’ Santiva is the 3-to-1 favorite for the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland and posted his final major workout at Palm Meadows last Saturday for trainer Eddie Kenneally. The son of Giant’s Causeway finished second to Mucho Macho Man in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds in his only start this year and first since scoring in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill in late November.
WinStar Farm’s Brethren goes into Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) for trainer Todd Pletcher after working a ‘bullet’ five furlongs in 59 flat last Saturday at Palm Meadows ahead of his trip to Oaklawn Park. The son of Distorted Humor made both of his starts this year at Tampa Bay Downs, finishing third last out as the 1-to-2 favorite in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) on Mar. 12.
In addition to Pants On Fire, Robert LaPenta’s Florida Derby (G1) hero Dialed In remains at Palm Meadows for trainer Nick Zito and is scheduled to work once more before he ships to Louisville, perhaps as the favorite for the Kentucky Derby.
Lopez Closes in on Repeat Gulfstream Riding Title
Jockey Paco Lopez missed more than a month of action during the Gulfstream Park meet recovering from an elbow injury sustained in a spill on Feb. 18, but is poised to collect his second straight title here after retaking the lead with four wins on Thursday’s program and three more on Friday to run his total to 70 victories, six more than John R. Velazquez, who has moved on to Kentucky and New York.
Todd Pletcher has wrapped up a remarkable eighth consecutive training title with 47 wins, 19 more than Nick Canani second with 28. David Fawkes ranks third with 18 and Eddie Plesa, Jr. and Chad Brown are ties at 17 apiece with six racing days to go before closing on Sun., Apr. 24.
Gulfstream Closes Next Sunday with $400,000 Sunshine Bonanza
The highly-successful 2011 Gulfstream Park racing season will come to an end on a high note on Sun., Apr. 24 with the running of the $400,000 Sunshine Bonanza, six races restricted to Florida-bred worth a total of $400,000, four on turf, highlighting the final card of the session.
Highlights include the $75,000 Island Whirl Thoroughbred Charities and $75,000 Capital Request Thoroughbred Charities, companion events at 1 1/16 miles on turf, the latter for fillies and mares and attracting the biggest names with Peter Fuller’s Trip for A.J. and Buongiomo A. Tutti Stable’s Sweet Repent prominent among the nominees.