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Ritvo Weighs Options For Mucho Macho Man
Trainer Kathy Ritvo said Thursday morning that she would love to keep her Grade 2-placed Mucho Macho Man in South Florida for the Feb. 26 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2)
But the need to accumulate those prized graded stakes earnings has the conditioner thinking about the Risen Star (G3) at the Fair Grounds on Feb. 19 as Mucho Macho Man’s next start.
“The thinking is the Risen Star might come up an easier spot,” Ritvo said. “We’d love to stay and run at Gulfstream but we’re looking for graded stakes earnings. Also, it will be good for him to learn how to ship. We haven’t officially decided anything, though.”
Having already amassed $90,000 in graded stakes earnings, Mucho Macho Man would almost guarantee himself a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby (G1) if he were to win the $300,000 Risen Star.
“We’re really looking forward to getting him back to two turns,” Ritvo said of Mucho Macho Man, who ran fourth last out in Gulfstream’s one-turn Holy Bull (G3). “In his last race, he just got going a little too fast. I guess he was a little sharp for the race. I didn’t think so beforehand, but you never know until they get on the track. Going two turns, he can’t get going that fast early on because there’s a turn coming up and I think that will help him to relax.”
Mucho Macho Man, a 3-year-old colt by Macho Uno, concluded his 2010 campaign by finishing second behind leading Kentucky Derby contender To Honor and Serve in the Nashua (G2) and Remsen (G3) at Aqueduct.
Trained by Bill Mott, To Honor and Serve is expected to make his 2011 debut in the Feb. 26 Fountain of Youth.
“Even though he ran fourth in his last race, we haven’t lost any confidence in him,” Ritvo said. “He’s been training well and we’re excited to get him back around two turns.”
Should Mucho Macho Man wind up making the trip to the Fair Grounds for next Saturday’s Risen Star, Ritvo said she still would like to see him run one more time at Gulfstream.
“Oh, we definitely still have the Florida Derby on our radar,” she said.
Turf Marathons Highlight Gulfstream Weekend
Renewals of the $150,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2) on Saturday and $100,000 The Very One Stakes (G3) on Sunday, companion events at 1 3/8 miles on turf with the latter restricted to fillies and mares, highlight the Feb. 19-20 weekend stakes action at Gulfstream Park.
Also to be run on the Saturday card will be the $100,000 Sabin Stakes (G3) for fillies and mares to be run at one mile on the main track with the nominees including Peter Callahan’s Beautician, Farnsworth Stable’s pair of Amazing and Toocleverforwords and Whizway Farms and partners’ Amen Hallelujah.
Prominent on the roster named for the Mac Diarmida is Patricia Generazio’s 8-year-old gelding Presious Passion, the defending champion in the race and expected to defend his title. Trained throughout his career by Mary Hartmann, Presious Passion has won 14 of 50 career starts for earnings of nearly $2.7 million.
A chestnut by Royal Anthem, Presious Passion’s resume includes back-to-back victories in the United Nations Stakes (G1) ay Monmouth Park and W.L. McKnight Handicap (G2), and runner-up effort in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita. However, ‘Presious’ hasn’t won in six starts since the Mac Diarmida last year, most recently finishing fifth in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita on Jan. 29.
Also notable among the prospects for the Mac Diarmida are JoAnn and Alex Lieblong’s 7-year-old Telling, two-time winner of the Sword Dancer Invitational (G1) at Saratoga; and Casa Farms I LLC’s 4-year-old Prince Will I Am, wire-to-wire winner of the W.L. McKnight last out in mid-December.
Telling is a son of A.P. Indy trained by Steve Hobby and based at Fair Grounds getting ready for his first start since finishing sixth behind Dangerous Midge in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. Hobby said Friday morning that he was considering the Mac Diarmida at 11 furlongs or a nine-furlong race the same day at Fair Grounds with a decision to come over the weekend.
Prince Will I Am is a son of Victory Gallop trained by Michelle Nihei and attracted plenty of attention at the Breeders’ Cup in November at Churchill when he made a wild run through the stretch to finish second in the Marathon (G3), but was disqualified to 10th for interference to several horses in the stretch. Prince Will I Am won the Jamaica Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park on turf in his previous start.
The Mac Diarmida will lead to another turf marathon on the Gulfstream schedule with the $150,000 Pan American Stakes (G3) to be run at 1 ½ miles on Sat., Mar. 26. Next up on the schedule for fillies and mares in the long-distance turf division will be the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (G3) at 1 ½ miles on Sun. Mar. 20.
Leading the list of nominees for The Very One are Swettenham Stud’s 6-year-old Irish-bred Changing Skies, winner of the race last year and most recently the 12-furlong La Prevoyante Handicap (G3) over the Calder course on Jan. 2 for trainer Bill Mott; and Barbara Hunter’s 5-year-old Keertana, a close-up third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Churchill on Nov. 5 for trainer Tom Proctor.