Mucho Macho Man has been in California so long it wouldn’t be surprising if he had a skate board and a cell phone.

OK, so he’s been here shorter than a Brett Favre retirement and may not be a bona fide California Boy yet, but he has been at Barn 126 at Santa Anita since Sept. 9.

The 5-year-old Mucho Uno horse fulfilled his first major objective at The Great Race Place, winning the Grade I Awesome Again Stakes on Sept. 28 to earn a fees-paid berth in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

He had his first workout since the Awesome Again on Oct. 12, going a half-mile in 47.40 for Kathy Ritvo, who trains the 17-hand bay for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing. Mucho Macho Man thrives at Santa Anita, where he finished second by a half-length in last year’s Classic to Fort Larned. His trainer loves it here, too, especially the weather.

Gary Stevens, who rode Mucho Macho Man in the Awesome Again and will be aboard again in the Classic, sees a benefit in having the winner of more than $2.5 million in his comfort zone.

“It’s a huge advantage,” said Stevens, who is looking forward to the 30th edition of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 1 and 2. “The horse is here and he’s settled in. This is home now and he likes this track. He ran well on it last year and had a great performance in the Awesome Again.

“Last weekend was kind of disappointing for me, but it was all relative after I got a text from a number I didn’t recognize.

“It said, ‘Gary, this is Kathy. Here’s Mucho’s work this morning. It was a half-mile.’ She sent me a video of it. I got to watch it and it just put a smile on my face.

“I know she’s excited. That gave me a boost and made me put the weekend in perspective. I realized I’ve got a lot to look forward to.”

In addition to Mucho Macho Man, agent Craig O’Bryan has booked Stevens on the following Breeders’ Cup mounts: Beholder (Distaff), She’s a Tiger (Juvenile Fillies), Ever Rider (Marathon), Indy Point (Turf), Starship Truffles (Filly & Mare Sprint), Caracortado (Turf Sprint) and Got Shades (Juvenile Turf).


Preparing for the $1.5 million Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint at six furlongs on Nov. 2, Private Zone worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Thursday in a bullet 45.80 with regular rider Martin Pedroza aboard.

“He worked fantastic,” trainer Doug O’Neill said of the Grade I Vosburgh Invitational winner, like Mucho Macho Man, sired by Mucho Uno. “He was visually super-impressive. He just flew around there. He’s spot-on ready to go.”

O’Neill gives credit to retired jockey Rene Douglas for Private Zone’s resurgence. Douglas, paralyzed in a riding accident at Arlington Park in 2009, is racing manager for the Good Friends Stable, which owns Private Zone.

“It was Rene’s idea to freshen him up,” O’Neill said. “I think that did a world of good. He’s come back gangbusters and he continues to look great. I love how we’re doing coming into the biggest race of his life.”

Pedroza said Private Zone worked “super” and that the plan is for his life-long friend and fellow Panamanian Douglas to attend the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita.

Diamond Bachelor, likely for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with an outside chance of going in the Juvenile Turf, worked five furlongs on the main track in 59.40 for Patrick Biancone.

Richard Mandella on champion Beholder’s bullet five furlong work of 58.60 with Gary Stevens aboard on Monday: “She went with a work mate and looked as good as a horse can look. She galloped out six furlongs in 11 and change.”

Steve Asmussen assistant Scott Blasi says Unbridled’s Note (Turf Sprint) and Justin Phillip (Sprint) are doing well as they prepare for their Breeders’ Cup engagements.

“We had a nice Breeders’ Cup here last year and got out here early,” Blasi said. “We’re just trying to get the same results.”


Trainer Michael Pender plucked Luckarack out of a seven furlong race at Del Mar for $50,000 on Aug. 3, then promptly won the $75,000 Governor’s Cup at Fairplex Park on Sept. 18. Next up: Saturday’s inaugural running of the $100,000 California Flag Handicap at about 6 ½ furlongs on Santa Anita’s unique downhill turf course.

“He’s had 37 lifetime starts with 12 wins and six seconds,” Pender said. “The horse is 50 percent one-two lifetime. You gotta hand it to him. He’s proven he can do anything. He’s very versatile. Turf, dirt, it doesn’t matter.”

Pender’s claim marked the third time in Luckaruck’s last five races that he was claimed. A 5-year-old bay gelding by Lucky Pulpit bred in California by Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams, Luckarack has a 12-6-6 record from 37 starts with earnings of $493,595.

FINISH LINES: Get me Guiness: Bob Baffert, an 11-time Santa Anita training king and on top through 12 days this meet with 10 wins from 44 starters, had no horses entered at The Great Race Place on Thursday, Friday or Saturday . . . Contestants alive in ShowVivor were down to an even 50 entering Thursday’s races . . . Thoroughbred owner and 2010 NHC Tour Champion Tom Noone is Tom Quigley’s guest at Sunday’s handicapping seminar, 11:45 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . On Saturday, all THOROUGHBREDS members at Santa Anita will receive a practical and attractive Santa Anita Throw Blanket, free with paid admission, while supplies last.


(Current Through Monday, Oct. 14)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Rafael Bejarano 80 12 15 13 15% $606,860
JoeTalamo 79 9 8 9 11% $419,254
Edwin Maldonado 74 9 8 6 12% $341,648
Gary Stevens 39 9 6 7 23% $797,168
Corey Nakatani 51 9 4 8 18% $479,370
Mike Smith 24 9 3 2 38% $522,650
Agapito Delgadillo 51 6 7 2 12% $196,560
Mario Gutierrez 44 6 5 3 14% $315,790
Irving Orozco 51 6 2 5 12% $211,576
Martin Garcia 54 5 6 7 9% $369,030
Julien Leparoux 42 5 6 5 12% $471,198
Martin Pedroza 44 4 3 3 9% $148,074

Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Bob Baffert 44 10 2 7 23% $590,290
Doug O'Neill 56 7 4 3 13% $462,138
Peter Miller 35 6 3 5 17% $193,866
John Sadler 49 5 10 9 10% $359,230
William Spawr 12 4 4 0 33% $126,310
Thomas Proctor 21 4 2 1 19% $218,390
Barry Abrams 17 4 2 0 24% $146,694
Jeff Mullins 20 4 1 1 20% $139,890
Ronald Ellis 12 4 1 0 33% $121,980
Jerry Hollendorfer 25 3 4 3 12% $188,698
Mike Puype 31 3 1 6 10% $85,604
Eddie Truman 6 3 1 1 50% $81,410
Richard Mandella 16 3 1 1 19% $320,310