HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - When handicappers examine the past performance lines of the entrants for Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2), they will take special note of Mucho Macho Man’s triumph in the $400,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 28.
Although his thoroughly professional and dominant performance was impressive to watch, it became even more notable when runner-up Ron the Greek went on to capture the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) last weekend.
Mucho Macho Man turned in a bullet five-furlong workout in 58.90 seconds last Friday in preparation for new challengers in the one-turn, one-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap.
“He couldn’t be training any better,” trainer Kathy Ritvo said. “He’ll run a good race. He’ll run his race. He tries every time.”
Finn Green, stable manager for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, cast an approving eye upon the son of Macho Uno Wednesday morning.
“Kathy’s a great, great horseperson – one of the best caretakers I’ve ever been around. I was born the night my family moved from Greentree to Elmendorf, so I’ve been around a lot of great horses and horsepeople,” the fifth-generation horseman said.. “Kathy takes very, very good care of horses.”
The Florida-bred colt, who finished third in last year’s Kentucky Derby and is one of only three horses to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown, has won both of his starts impressively since returning from a long layoff.
“He’s definitely matured and gotten better,” said Ritvo, whose colt didn’t actually turn 3 until the week after the Belmont Stakes.
Mucho Macho Man is scheduled to clash with Jackson Bend, the Grade 1 stakes-winning Florida bred who captured the Hal’s Hope (G3) at the one-mile distance on Jan. 14, and Tackleberry, a three-time stakes winner at Gulfstream last year who will be making his 2012 debut.
Mucho Macho Man has shown the versatility to set the pace, as he did in a one-mile allowance race at Aqueduct last November or stalk the early leader as he did under Ramon Dominguez in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic.
“I’ll leave it to Ramon to ride his race,” Ritvo said
The Gulfstream Park Handicap is the next step in a tentative schedule planned for Mucho Macho Man.
“We’ve got a plan, but we’re going a race at a time,” Green said. “It’s better to let the horse tell us if we’re on track with the plan.”
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Ritvo will also be represented on Saturday’s card by Silver Menace in the $150,000 Swale (G2), a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds. The son of Silver Wagon has run twice since being privately purchased: a troubled sixth in the Gulfstream Park Derby on Jan. 1 and a fourth-placed-third in the five-furlong Needles on turf.
“He’s built for speed,” Green said.