Suburban Handicap Goes to the ‘macho Man’

‘Mucho’ The Best In Grade 2 Stakes

from the New York Racing Association (NYRA) press office

Mucho Macho Man and jockey Mike Smith ran away from the field in the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park last Saturday, July 7.

Trainer Kathy Ritvo said on Sunday, July 8 that Mucho Macho Man emerged from his impressive victory in last Saturday’s (July 7) Grade 2 Suburban Handicap in good order and was relaxing at the Spa.

“We’re already back in Saratoga and everything’s great,” said Ritvo, who trains the colt for Dean and Patti Reeves. “He came out of it very good.”

The four-year-old son of Macho Uno has won three out of four starts this year, notching victories in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic and the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in addition to the Suburban. He was third in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on the May 4 Kentucky Oaks undercard.

No plans have been made for Mucho Macho Man’s next start. He earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 108 for his 2 1/2-length triumph in the Suburban under Hall of Famer Mike Smith.

The four-year-old colt shadowed Trickmeister through early fractions of 23.06 and 45.68 seconds, with 7-5 choice To Honor and Serve in hot pursuit. Moving up on the far turn in tandem with the favorite, Mucho Macho Man stuck a nose in front approaching the quarter-pole and never looked back as he opened up on his six rivals through the stretch, hitting the wire in 1:46.58 for the 1 1/8 miles.

Hymn Book, who stumbled leaving the gate, rallied from last to gain second and was followed under the wire by Trickmeister, To Honor and Serve, Stay Thirsty, Buffum and Endorsement. Caixa Eletronica was scratched.

“I knew he was a nice horse, but he really, really impressed me,” said Smith, who came in from California to ride Mucho Macho Man, after the race. “From the time I got on him he was so confident. He left the gate in great order-for a big horse, he’s quick. I mean, every step was a winning one. I couldn’t believe how easy he beat [a strong field]. I mean, you put that bunch in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, your favorite is going to come out of this race. He just ran them off their feet.”

Hymn Book, the 2012 Donn Handicap winner who was one of three Grade 1 winners in the field along with To Honor and Serve (2011 Cigar Mile) and Stay Thirsty (2011 Travers), finished three lengths ahead of Trickmeister after dropping more than a dozen lengths out of it at the start.

“It’s just a shame we gave up that much at the break,” said Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey of Hymn Book, was second in the 2011 Suburban. “He stumbled leaving there, and by the time [jockey Alan Garcia] had him gathered up they were going pretty fast. He just got too far out of it to try to make up that much ground against that kind of horses. He passed all of them but one. I’m disappointed because I think if he could have been in a good position then he would have had a chance, but I’m pleased with the way he ran.”

The next start for Mucho Macho Man, who is stabled at Saratoga Race Course, could be the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap onAug. 4 or the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes on Sept. 1, both at 1 1/8 miles.

“We’re going to take it slow and see what happens,” said Ritvo last Saturday. “We’ll make sure he comes back great and we’ll look again [at what’s next].”

McGaughey reported that Hymn Book seemed to come back well and likely would be pointed for the Whitney. Trainer Todd Pletcher said that Repole Stable’s Stay Thirsty, who was fifth behind Mucho Macho Man in the Suburban, came out of that effort in good shape and was also under consideration for the Whitney.

‘Giant Killer’ strikes again

Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens reported Sunday morning that both he and Emma’s Encore exited her upset win in the Grade 3 Victory Ride Stakes in fine form.

“They always seem to be proud in the morning after they’ve won,” said Jerkens. “It’s your own reading into it, probably. Most likely they do the same thing when they lose. Every once in a while they jump around in the pen even when they finish dead last.”

Jerkens said Emma’s Encore, 3-1-1 in six starts since joining Jerkens’ barn in Florida over the winter, will likely make her next start at Saratoga Race Course. The trainer, called the “Giant Killer” for leading horses to upset wins in many stakes races, said he would consider the Grade 1, $300,000 Prioress Stakes at six furlongs on Aug. 4 and the Grade 1, $500,000 Test Stakes at seven furlongs on August 25 for the threeyear old Florida-bred daughter of Congrats.

“If she’s doing well,” he added.

Jerkens has had success in both races, having won the Test with Swap Fliparoo (2006), Society Selection (2004) and November Snow (1992) and the Prioress with House Party (2003) and Classy Mirage (1993).

Eyes future stakes

Phipps Stable’s Point of Entry tuned up for this Saturday’s (July 14) Grade 1 Man O’War Stakes with a bullet half-mile breeze (48.93) over Belmont Park’s inner turf course Sunday morning. The $600,000 Man O’War will be the four-year-old’s first start since taking the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland on Apr. 27.

“Being a Dynaformer, it took him awhile to come around,” said trainer McGaughey. “He won an allowance race down there [at Gulfstream Park] in December, which was a good race When he came back [in an optional claimer on Feb. 26], Johnny [Velazquez] said they were all going a little bit earlier and he waited and got himself in trouble and finished fourth. His two races at Keeneland were good races, and I just thought after I ran him back in 13 days [between an allowance victory on Apr. 12 and the Elkhorn] that I’d give him a bit of a blow here and hopefully have a fresh horse for the rest of the year. I think he’s a true mile and three-eighths to a mile and a half kind of horse.”

Grade 1 United Nations Handicap winner Turbo Compressor and Grade 2 Monmouth Cup victor Rule will head to Saratoga Race Course this week and could make their next starts at the Spa, said trainer Pletcher this morning.

“They came out of their races well,” he said. “The [Grade 1] Sword Dancer [Invitational, 1 1/2 miles on Aug. 18] is a possibility for Turbo Compressor and the Whitney is a possibility for Rule.”

Turbo Compressor is now 3-for-4 on the turf, having led all the way in last Saturday’s 1 3/8-mile United Nations at Monmouth Park, while Rule earned his first graded stakes since taking the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in February 2010.

Alpha on the comeback trail

Alpha, who was withdrawn from the Belmont Stakes after developing a fever the week before the race, continues to train forwardly for a return to competition. Saturday at Saratoga Race Course, the Bernardini colt breezed four furlongs in a bullet 47.33, fastest of 16 moves at the distance.

Last week, Alpha went three furlongs in 36.67 in his first work since May 27, two days before spiking a temperature of 103 degrees.

“He had been treated with antibiotics [for a cut he suffered in the Wood] and went to the Kentucky Derby and ran well [to finish 12th] but coming out of that it seemed like everything caught up to him,” said Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “He’s training very well.”

Magnuson said no spot had been picked out for Alpha’s return.

“We have so many options, including the three-year-old stakes at Saratoga,” he said.

In addition to winning the Grade 3 Withers Stakes and Count Fleet Stakes, Alpha was second to Gemologist in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial, and last year was second to eventual Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes for Godolphin Racing. He was a six-length winner of his debut at the Spa last September.

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