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Edited Gulfstream Park Release – Shadwell Stable’s Mutasaabeq, a Grade 2 stakes winner on turf, is scheduled to make the switch back to dirt for Saturday’s $100,000 Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park.

            The Mucho Macho Man, a one-mile stakes for newly turned 3-year-olds, will kick off the 2021 Road to the Florida Derby (G1) on an 11-race program that will also be highlighted by the $75,000 Limehouse, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds; the $75,000 Dania Beach, a mile turf race for 3-year-olds; the $75,000 Glitter Woman, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies; and the $75,000 Ginger Brew, a mile turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

            Mutasaabeq looked like a colt with a big future on turf after surging from last to capture the Oct. 4 Bourbon (G2) in his grass debut at Keeneland. While major success on turf may well be in the son of Into Mischief’s future, trainer Todd Pletcher has opted for the Mucho Macho Man as his next start following a disappointing off-the-board finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Keeneland in his 2-year-old season finale.

              “I think he’s versatile like we see with most Into Mischiefs. We’ve seen them run on both surfaces,” Pletcher said. “We’d like to see him on dirt again to help clarify that.”

            Mutasaabeq started off his career with an impressive triumph over Saratoga’s main track in August, drawing away to a 4 ½-length victory while running 5 ½ furlongs in 1:03.55. The Kentucky-bred colt returned to finish a distant third in the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga a month later before making his turf debut in the Bourbon.

            “We’re very happy with the way he’s training. We decided to get him back on the dirt. He broke his maiden on dirt and ran a respectable third in the Hopeful, so we’ll see where we are with him,” Pletcher said.

            Luis Saez has the mount aboard Mutasaabeq.

            OMGA Investments LLC and Off the Hook LLC’s Jirafales is set to make his stakes debut following a most promising Nov. 19 debut victory at Gulfstream Park West. The
Gustavo Delgado-trained son of Social Inclusion overcame bumping at the start of the 6 ½-furlong maiden special weight for Florida-breds to surge from off the pace to win going away by 4 ½ lengths.

            “We didn’t expect him to run a race like that. We thought he might need a race. The pace helped a little bit,” said Gustavo Delgado Jr., the trainer’s son and assistant. “Since that race, he has been training very well. He’s improving from that race.”

            The homebred colt should have no problem stretching out to a mile, Delgado said.

            “He’s a huge horse. I’d say he’s almost 17 hands,” Delgado said “He has this long stride. He can go all day. We think the longer he goes the better it will be for him.”

            Cristian Torres has the return call aboard Jirafales.

            Jim Bakke and Jerry Isbister’s Ultimate Badger will seek to rebound from an off-the-board finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill. The son of Commissioner had previously captured an optional claiming allowance before finishing far behind stablemate Smiley Sobotka, who finished second in the Kentucky Jockey Club.

            Ultimate Badger, who broke his maiden at first asking at Ellis Park, also finished out of the money in his stakes debut at Churchill in the Sept. 5 Iroquois (G3), won by stablemate Sittin On Go. Ultimate Badger came back to finish second and register a victory in optional claiming allowance company.         

            “He ran two bad races in his life and there are no excuses for either one of them,” trainer Dale Romans said. “They both happened in a stake with horses I know he can compete with. He just threw in some clunkers. He rebounded off the first one, so we’re hoping he’ll rebound off the last one.”

            Corey Lanerie is scheduled to ride Ultimate Badger for the first time Saturday.

            Magic Stables LLC’s Papetu returns to action at Gulfstream Park after a pair of graded-stakes starts at Saratoga. The Antonio Sano-trained son of Dialed In finished sixth in the Aug. 7 Saratoga Special (G2) and fifth in the Sept. 7 Hopeful (G1) after launching his career with back-to-back victories at Gulfstream.

            Leonel Reyes, who was aboard for Papetu’s victories, is set for a return to the saddle.

            John Bowers Jr.’s Pickin’ Time brings graded-stakes credentials into the Mucho Macho Man, having pulled off a 2 ¼-length upset in the Nov. 8 Nashua (G3) at a one-turn mile distance at Aqueduct. The New Jersey homebred son of Stay Thirsty came back to finish a distant fourth in the Dec. 5 Remsen (G2).

            Pickin’ Time finished eighth in the Saratoga Special after winning his July 4 debut at Monmouth Park.

            Joe Bravo has the call aboard the Kelly Breen-trained colt.

            Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Big Thorn is slated to seek his third straight victory and second stakes win in a row in the Mucho Macho Man. The David Fawkes-trained colt, who debuted with a second-place finish in a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight race at Gulfstream Sept. 24, graduated with a five-length romp Oct. 29. He followed up that win with a 4 ½-length victory Nov. 22 in the seven-furlong, off-the-turf Juvenile Turf at Gulfstream Park West.

            Paco Lopez, who was aboard for both victories, has the return call on the homebred colt.

            Breeze Easy LLC’s Easy Time, like Jirafales, is scheduled to make his stakes debut in the Mucho Macho Man off a strong debut performance. The Mark Casse-trained son of Not This Time stalked the early pace of a seven-furlong maiden special weight race over Woodbine’s synthetic surface before drawing away clearly by 2 ¾ lengths Oct. 25.

            Jose Ortiz is scheduled to ride Easy Time for the first time Saturday.

            John Fanelli and partners’ Awesome Gerry and Peachtree Stable’s Kiger will represent trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. in the Mucho Macho Man field.

Awesome Gerry is coming off a second-place finish in the Nov. 30 Jean Laffitte Stakes at Delta Downs. The son of Liam’s Map had previously broken his maiden for a $50,000 claiming tag at Gulfstream, won an optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park West and finished fourth in the Nyquist at Keeneland.

           Kiger graduated second-time out Oct. 29 at Gulfstream Park West before finishing second in a mile optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream last time out.

            Irad Ortiz Jr. has the call aboard Awesome Gerry, while Edgard Zayas has been named to ride Kiger, a son of Verrazano.

            Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s Raison d’Air will be looking to rebound from a distant fourth-place finish in the off-the-turf Armed Forces Sept. 28 over a sloppy Gulfstream surface. The gelded son of Raison d’Etat had previously broken his maiden in his second career start by 13 ½ lengths.

            Luca Panici has the call aboard the Kathy Ritvo trainee.

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