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John Pricci executive editor John Pricci has over three decades of experience as a thoroughbred racing public handicapper and was an award-winning journalist while at New York Newsday for 18 years.

John has covered 14 Kentucky Derbies and Preaknesses, all but three Breeders' Cups since its inception in 1984, and has seen all but two Belmont Stakes live since 1969.

Currently John is a contributing racing writer to, an analyst on the Capital Off-Track Betting television network, and co-hosts numerous handicapping seminars. He resides in Saratoga Springs, New York.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

From Baby Steps Mighty Titles Grow

HALLANDALE BEACH, FLA., March 10, 2012--This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this is a racetrack. No more foolin’ around. It’s time to get serious.

That’s the message the connections of Mucho Macho Man will begin to hear in earnest after the colt turned back to one turn to face two of the country’s best mile specialists--faster specialists--and spanked them to take his second straight at the meet, the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

It’s time to go Grade 1. The Macho Uno colt, still three months from his fourth birthday, has become a monster, literally and figuratively, and the crowd's anxious to see more.
Mucho Macho Man in full flight
Photo by: Toni Pricci
Mucho Macho Man in full flight
Espeically when he hit the finish line in 1:35.50, two lengths in front of Tackleberry, and two and a half ahead of Jackson Bend, and there still was gas in that big tank.

Tackleberry, who had been training monstrously at his Calder base, began last year like the Macho Man did this, with a victory in the Sunshine Millions before taking two consecutive Grade 2s including today’s Grade 2.

In Jackson Bend, Mucho Macho Man beat the winner of the January 14 G3 Hal’s Hope Stakes, the same Jackson Bend who won the G1 Forego at Saratoga last year.

And, of course, in his first start at 4 he, beat the subsequent winner of the Big Cap, Ron The Greek. It’s unlikely, however, he’s going to beat any better stock the next time he runs.

I’m a fan and I want him to run. How about the Met Mile on Memorial Day? Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen. Alysheba anyone?

That would be the Grade 3 on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. Last year, he ran on the first Saturday in May; this year it’s the first Friday.

But give the connections credit for this. They went out and hired a stable agent, one of the more highly regarded ones, Finn Green, who’s done a lot of good work for Taylor Made Farm.

Green’s idea is to allow Mucho Macho Man to grow to full maturity and develop at his pace, not the fan’s or the owner’s pace. “I’d love to win a Grade 1 with him,” said Patti Reeves, wife of majority owner Dean Reeves. It looks like Mrs. Reeves, and Macho’s fans, are going to have to wait and simply savor the most recent moment.
Macho Man & Ramon give Patti & Dean Reeves and Kathy Ritvo mucho to smile about.
Photo by: Toni Pricci
Macho Man & Ramon give Patti & Dean Reeves and Kathy Ritvo mucho to smile about.
For such a big colt, he’s good on his feet and broke sharply from the pole position, never an easy thing going a flat mile, especially here. But he put himself into the game from the start at Ramon Dominguez was happy to oblige.

“When [Tackleberry] wasn’t so far in front, [Ramon] decided to go,” said winning trainer Kathy Ritvo.” I thought it was going to be a little tough, but he ran really well. I’m really excited.”

The ultimate plan is the get to the Breeders’ Cup Classic by taking the path of least resistance while the colt matures. So, what about the 10 furlongs?

“I think [his best distance] is a mile to anything,” Ritvo said. “Maybe I’m a little confident, but I don’t think it matters, I really don’t.”
Ever So Lucky steps into the ring
Photo by: Toni Pricci
Ever So Lucky steps into the ring
His connections, and Macho’s fans, are going to find out but they will need to be patient. It’s going to be one baby step at a time, fitting for a colt who officially doesn’t celebrate his fourth birthday until June 15.

At Calder They Loved Him

Some trainers can only hope to get their hands on a really fast horse. Not trainer Bisnath Parboo; he’s got two of them.
Jonathan Sheppard likes what he sees.
Photo by: Toni Pricci
Jonathan Sheppard likes what he sees.
One, Giant Ryan, is fast enough to have won the G1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park before committing hara-kiri chasing Euroears through a quarter of :21.12 and a half mile of :44.41 in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs last fall. And they finished 1-2—if you read the official chart standing on your head.

The other fast colt is Trinniberg, who stood Kentucky Derby aspirant Ever So Lucky and eight other rivals on their ears to take the Swale Stakes by six extremely decisive lengths in 1:21.69, the third fastest 7 furlongs in the history of the Grade 2 sprint.

Fellow Calderite Hello Prince chased him all around Gulfstream Park and gamely held the place over late running Ever So Lucky, who finished one-paced through the final furlong. The all-Calder-all-the-time exacta was worth $449.60 for every deuce.

He, too, tried to out-speed his division in the Juvenile Sprint but met the same fate as his more famous, older stablemate. “We knew we were in trouble when we worked him [before the Breeders’ Cup],” said owner Shivinanda Parboo, the trainer’s son and stable manager.
Parboo family celebrates job well done
Photo by: Toni Pricci
Parboo family celebrates job well done
“Maybe he didn’t like the track but when he went the first quarter in :20 4/5, I knew it was all over.” And that’s when they started thinking about the Swale Stakes for the colt’s 3-year-old debut.

“We gave him some time off and sent him to Jimmy Crupi’s farm [in Ocala] and he took good care of him. We’ve been planning for some time to take the blinkers off him and I think it made a big difference.” Parboo may be from Trinidad but clearly has a gift for understated English. “He was really relaxed out there.”

He certainly appears to be a different colt. At 2, he was run-off speed but not so yesterday. “Unexpectedly, we were out without much pressure,” said jockey Willie Martinez, who rated him brilliantly. “He’s going to be a horse to watch this year.”

As far as Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard is concerned, all Ever So Lucky lost in the Swale was a horse race.
Trinniberg & Willie Martinez take aim at the finish line.
Photo by: Toni Pricci
Trinniberg & Willie Martinez take aim at the finish line.
“We are very happy,” he said of his colt’s 7-length defeat. “Obviously, you like to win but we really hadn’t been training him for speed like that. We’ve been trying to get a good bottom under him for longer races. I thought it was a very good effort. He galloped out really well.”

Sheppard will now stick with the pre-Derby game plan and run him back in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Ever So Lucky has already shown an affinity for Churchill Downs, breaking maiden stylish there on November 11 before running back 15 days later—very un-Sheppard-like—in the G2 Jockey Club Stakes in which he finished second to undefeated Gemologist, who will make his season’s debut for Todd Pletcher in next Saturday’s Rebel Stakes in Hot Springs.

Trinniberg’s connections have no such aspirations at the moment. “I don’t know how far he’ll be able to go,” said his rider. “But he’ll get there quickly.”

Written by John Pricci

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