Mucho Macho Man Readies for Florida Sunshine Millions
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - In preparation for a scheduled start in the $400,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 28, Mucho Macho breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:03.35 under exercise rider Nick Petro Jr. Friday morning at Gulfstream Park.
The 4-year-old son of Macho Uno is coming off a dazzling allowance victory at Aqueduct on Nov. 9 in his return from a five-month layoff following a demanding Triple Crown campaign. Pleased with the sensational manner in which her strapping colt bounced back from running in all three spring classics, trainer Kathy Ritvo has patiently prepared him for his 2012 debut.
“It just allows a big horse like this to get back into himself and prepare for his next race. It’s tough; he’s a big, huge horse,” Ritvo said. “He’s got a big shoulder and a lot more muscle. He looks good.”
Mucho Macho Man, who didn’t actually turn 3 until just after the 3-year-old classics were completed in June, captured the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds last spring before finishing third in the Kentucky Derby. One of only three colts to run in all three Classics, joining Derby winner Animal Kingdom and Preakness victor Shackleford, Mucho Macho Man has impressed his trainer with his resiliency and subsequent development.
“He’s feeling good. He’s doing everything right,” Ritvo said. “Hopefully, if we do the right thing, he’ll have a great year.”
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, which owns Mucho Macho Man in partnership with Dream Team One Racing, recently purchased Silver Menace, a 3-year-old who showed promised during a troubled sixth-place finish in last Sunday’s $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby.
The son of Silver Wagon raced as a ridgling in the first Derby of 2012, but he’ll return to action as a gelding.
“I think he was racing a little wide if you watched the head-on. We wanted to do whatever we can do to free him,” Ritvo said. “I really like the horse. I think he’s going to be a nice horse.
Silver Menace broke slowly and was subsequently steadied on the first turn in the Gulfstream Derby.
“He didn’t break well. I think he wanted to be closer than he was. I think the horse was frustrated. But he ran Ok and got tired. We only had him a week, it was good to tell us where he was,” Ritvo said.
Heavenly Landing Takes to Turf for Marshua’s River
Heavenly Landing had always given every indication that she had a bright future on dirt, especially on Aug. 23, 2009 when she scored by three lengths in her debut at Saratoga, where maiden special weight races traditionally include stars-in-the-making.
The 4-year-old daughter of Pulpit subsequently ran creditably at times against some very talented fillies, but she didn’t win again until more than two years later while making her turf debut at Keeneland on Oct. 21. She followed up that 2 ½ -length score with an equally strong victory over the Churchill Downs turf course on Nov. 25, prompting trainer Eddie Kenneally to enter her in Saturday’s $100,000 Marshua’s River (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
“She worked well on dirt her whole life and had some decent races on it. She broke her maiden on dirt at Saratoga, so we were thinking she was a main-track horse,” Kenneally said. “But then we got the chance to run her on turf and it’s worked out really well.”
Heavenly Landing has impressed her trainer with a pair of recent bullet workouts at Palm Meadows.
“She moves so effortless,” Kenneally said. “She’s a good filly.”
After launching her career with three straight victories – one on Polytrack, another on a wet track, and the latest over Gulfstream Park’s fast main track – it wouldn’t be surprising if Heavenly Landing’s stablemate Jump Up could handle turf. But there is do doubt that Kenneally has a star main-track performer in the 4-year-old filly.
Jump Up made her first start around two-turns in Monday’s fourth race, a 1 1/16-mile optional allowance, and she responded with a thoroughly professional performance in which she stalked the early pace before drawing away to a length victory.
“We knew she would have no problem with the distance. We weren’t sure she’d relax going a two-turn race, but she did,” Kenneally said. “She relaxed, which enabled her to finish strong.”
Jump Up debuted at Keeneland with 1 ½ length victory at six furlongs on Oct. 7 before scoring by five lengths in a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. Julien Leparoux has been aboard the daughter of Jump Start for all three races.
She showed me a lot from the beginning, no doubt,” Kenneally said. “As she’s had racing experience, she’s learned to relax.”
Kenneally said Jump Up would likely jump up to stakes company for her next start.
La Reine Lionne Gets Stakes Shot in Marshua’s River
Fresh off a troubled and very impressive triumph in a starter allowance race at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 16, La Reine Lionne will return in Saturday’s $100,000 Marshua’s River (G3).
“I like the post. I think the race sets up good for her, so I think I’m going to give it a shot,” trainer Chad Brown said. “She’s really matured and climbed the ladder the right way.”
La Reine Lionne was eligible for the recent starter allowance race because she was entered in a maiden $25,000 claiming race at Hawthorne by her former connections in November 2010. After a pair of dull efforts on dirt, the daughter of Leroidesanimaux took to the turf with a three-length victory. Four starts later she debuted at Gulfstream with a dominating turf victory in a starter allowance, after which she moved into the Brown stable.
La Reine Lionne won at first asking in an entry level allowance before finishing third in the Violet (G3) at Monmouth Park in May. The 5-year-old mare, who completed her 2011 season with an allowance win at Saratoga last August, impressed her trainer with her 2012 debut.
“It’s a matter of age and experience and letting her do what she wants to do, which is a mile, mile-and-a-sixteenth on turf,” Brown said. “The jockeys have gotten to know her better. She’s had a couple of rank trips, so everyone’s gotten to know her better. It’s a combination of her maturing and everyone around her getting to know her better.”