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Kentucky Confidential

Profile: Mucho Macho Man

Mucho Macho Man winning the Risen Star Stakes. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Mucho Macho Man stamped himself as a classic contender with second-place finishes in the Grade 2 Nashua and Remsen Stakes last fall in New York. The form of those races has not exactly held up this year — the winner of both, To Honor And Serve, has not visited a winner’s circle in 2011 — but Mucho Macho Man comes into the Derby off of two good efforts at the Fair Grounds.

Mucho Macho Man began his 3-year-old campaign with a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He set a very fast pace in that one-turn mile race, and, off a two-month layoff, had legitimate excuses to tire.

Trainer Kathy Ritvo removed Mucho Macho Man’s blinkers in his next start in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, and the colt responded very favorably. Relaxing just off a much slower pace, Mucho Macho Man took the lead after a half-mile and kicked strongly to the wire to win by 1 1/2 lengths. He ran his final five-sixteenths of a mile in 30.33 seconds, a good sign for his ability to handle more ground.

Mucho Macho Man’s final prep for Kentucky came in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, where he threw a shoe at the start of the race. It is difficult to quantify how much the lost shoe affected him. He ran well, but not quite as well as would have been hoped. Mucho Macho Man stalked a solid pace set by Pants On Fire and moved into contention in the stretch only to hang late and finish third, beaten three-quarters of a length. Second-place finisher Nehro rallied late up the rail to grab second.

Mucho Macho Man is a June foal. He is tall and lanky and has not yet filled out his frame. His pedigree looks a little light for classic distance races, but his physical conformation and long stride make him a reasonable candidate to handle additional ground. Mucho Macho Man’s running style should put him just behind the leaders in the Derby.

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Author PhotoAn award winning newspaper journalist from Chicago’s south side, Pete Denk moved to Lexington, Kentucky, in 2005. He wrote for Thoroughbred Times for five years, as a staff reporter and later as sales editor. Denk headed up the Times’ auction coverage for three years. Still based in horse country, he now works as a freelance journalist and consultant. More by  ›