Only one of three horses to compete in all three spring classics – Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and Preakness victor Shackleford being the others – Mucho Macho Man had given his trainer every indication that he was ready to make a fresh start. However, the aftereffects of the Triple Crown can often go undetected until a return to action.
“He’s a big horse, a smart horse. He takes care of himself. If you see him galloping, you can see how much he takes care of himself. I think that’s what keeps him so good,” Ritvo said. “He came back great in his race at Aqueduct. He came back for this race great,” Ritvo said. “Now, we’re looking forward to starting this year right.”
Mucho Macho Man had stamped himself as a top prospect for the 2011 Kentucky Derby with a triumph in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) and a close-up third in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds. Despite a wide trip, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team Racing’s colt closed well to finish third behind Animal Kingdom in the Kentucky. After a pair of off-the-board finishes in the Preakness and Belmont, in which he encountered early troubles, Mucho Macho Man earned as much rest and relaxation he needed before Ritvo decided he was ready to roll in a one-turn allowance at Aqueduct.
Racing in an ungraded race for this first time since breaking his maiden in his second lifetime start, Mucho Macho Man led throughout the one-turn race, scoring handily by 5 ¾ lengths under Ramon Dominguez.
“It was a great race for him to come back in after 5 ½ months off, going a one-turn mile. I think he prefers two turns, but he did well,” Ritvo said.
Content that her colt was back on his game, Ritvo had the luxury of giving him more time to fill out his huge frame.
“The one thing I always try to remember about him is that he’s so big. He’s still growing. He’s getting a big shoulder,” Ritvo said. “He’s just feeling so good, and doing so good. These horses, you just have to give them time. He’s a very sound horse. He’s always treated us right. The horse is very honest when he runs.”
Mucho Macho Man, who’ll be ridden by Ramon Dominguez, drew the No. 6 post position in the Classic field that will include Adios Charlie, a Grade 2 stakes winner who prepped with a smart allowance victory at Gulfstream; Turbo Compressor, who won a Florida-bred stakes at Calder by more than 10 lengths last time out; and millionaire Duke of Mischief