The Brock Talk

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mucho Reasons To Like The Macho Man

For all intents and purposes, six horses qualified for the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. 1) by earning enough graded stakes money in the three stakes considered serious prep races this past weekend.

Animal Kingdom, Pants on Fire and Twice the Appeal won the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. 3), Louisiana Derby (gr. 2) and Sunland Derby (gr. 3) respectively. Decisive Moment added $95,000 to his previous bankroll of $206,000 with his runner-up finish in the Spiral Stakes and now looks to have enough to enter the Kentucky Derby. In fact, Decisive Moment was the first Kentucky Derby contnender to arrive at Churchill Downs today. (photo) Mucho Macho Man likely had enough graded earnings before the Louisiana Derby but the $100,000 third-place check out of the Louisiana Derby pretty much solidifies his Kentucky qualifications. Similarly, Sunland Derby second-place finisher Astrology added enough to his existing earnings to likely get a spot in the starting gate in the Run for the Roses.

Although the Louisiana Derby has produced some Kentucky Derby starters that have gone to the gate at Churchill Downs among the favorites, the past winners of the Sunland Derby and Spiral Stakes are often among the less popular on the first Saturday in May, (If they make it to the Kentucky Derby at all.)

That is not to say that we did not see the future Kentucky Derby winner run this weekend. All three of these prep races have produced winners of the first leg of the Triple Crown. Horses that have won both the Louisiana Derby and Kentucky Derby include Grindstone (1996) and Black Gold (1924) while Lil E. Tee won in Kentucky in 1992 after winning the Spiral Stakes that year. Two years ago, Mine That Bird won the Derby at odds of 50-1, coming to Kentucky from the 2009 Sunland Derby where he finished third.

Interestingly, among the starters this weekend, the horse with the best chance of attracting wagers at the Kentucky Derby, finished third this weekend. Mucho Macho Man looked as though we was set to challenge leader Pants on Fire at the top of the stretch in the Louisiana Derby, the eventual winner pulled away and held off late charging and eventual runner-up Nehro. At first glance, it appeared as if Mucho Macho Man had run the second disappointing race in his last three starts.

Following the race, however, it was discovered that Mucho Macho Man had lost a shoe at some point very near the start of the race. That completely changes how the Louisiana Derby performance of Mucho Macho Man is evaluated. Instead of looking at Mucho Macho Man with doubt as to if he belongs in the Kentucky Derby, he instead retains his place among those likely to have a chance to win.

The thrown shoe by Mucho Macho Man in Louisiana will also be something lost among a great many of those betting the Kentucky Derby. So should Mucho Macho Man make it to Kentucky, there is a good chance he will be a bit of a wagering overlay. That is to say his odds will be artificially higher than they perhaps they should be.

Mucho Macho Man may not be the fastest or most talented of this group of 3-year-olds in 2011, but he oozes with determination. The son of Macho Uno started the year as the favorite in the grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park but finished fourth behind eventual winner Dialed In. After the race, jockey Eibar Coa said he had a difficult time getting Mucho Macho Man to relax during the early part of the Holy Bull and therefore spent too much energy too early in the race.

But Mucho Macho Man came back strong to win the Risen Star Stakes (gr. 3) at Fairgrounds in his next start showing that he had the determination to win and the character to rebound from a loss. Trainer Kathy Ritvo also took the blinkers off of Mucho Macho Man, which may have allowed him to settle a little easier for jockey Rajiv Maragh. Despite any lack of talent or pedigree, determination and character can be extremely valuable in a race with 19 other horses at a distance of 1-1/4 miles. Having the ability to rate and settle behind the always fast fractions in the Kentucky Derby will also be an asset.

Of course the Mucho Macho Man story can tug at one’s heart in other ways as well. Three years ago Ritvo was hospitalized and in very serious condition as she lay waiting for a heart transplant that had no guarantee of arrival. The donated heart eventually arrived and Ritvo has not only recovered, but now has a Kentucky Derby contender in her stable.

What the stable is missing however is jockey Eibar Coa, the regular rider aboard Mucho Macho Man before breaking a vertebrae in a spill at Gulfstream Park in February. Although Maragh has taken over riding Mucho Macho Man, the ownership team of Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Thoroughbred Racing have insisted the recovering Coa is still very much a part of the team. In fact majority owner Dan Reeves visited Coa in the hospital following the Risen Star victory and presented him a check for $18,000, equal to the compensation paid Maragh for the win.

So there are plenty of reason to pull for Mucho Macho Man to win this year’s Kentucky Derby. Not the least of which is your knowledge of the lost shoe in New Orleans.


LANCE6466 said...

What a class act it was for Mr. Dan Reeves to visit Coa, and give him a check equal to the amount he would have earned if he had been aboard Mucho Macho Man for the winning ride.I FOR ONE WILL BE PULLING FOR THIS TEAM TO DO WELL NOT ONLY IN THE dERBY BUT FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR! God Bless you Mr. Reeves!!

Brock Sheridan said...

I think the more people get to know this Mucho Macho Man team, the more folks will like them. Here's hoping they have a good Triple Crown trail.

The Mighty Curlin said...

I've been singing "Mucho Macho Man, he wants to be a Derby Horse" since last year and I am still confident he will do well in the Derby. He showed tenacity last week in the Louisiana Derby, despite throwing a shoe. Ouch, that had to hurt....but he still managed to come in 3rd. In the 2008Belmont Stakes, Big Brown didn't do so well, when his shoe came loose. God Bless Dan Reeves and Team MUCHO MACO MAN !!

John said...

Nice article. I can't say I've been on Mucho Macho Man's bandwagon, but I do have a soft spot for the horse.

I wish him and his connections the the best. Wouldn't disappoint me at all if Mucho Macho Man won the Kentucky Derby.

Anonymous said...

I really like Mucho Macho Man and his connections. He still ran a pretty good race after throwing a shoe, he seemed to hand a bit in the stretch after he started his move.