Countdown to the Cup: Mucho Doings in the Classic

Patti and Dean Reeves have been at Santa Anita for a few days. All that’s missing is their horse. According to Dean, Mucho Macho Man was scheduled to leave Belmont Park with the final group of New York horses Wednesday morning at 4:45 and, like the previous shipment, van up to Newburgh, N.Y. and fly to Louisville out of Stewart Air Force Base. There they will pick up the last remaining Kentucky-based horses, including fellow Classic contender Fort Larned.

In the meantime, Reeves continues to have sleepless nights, envisioning the race in his dreams and trying to picture himself in the winner’s circle Saturday night.

Mucho Macho Man, coming off a head defeat in the Woodward Stakes, like most of his races, will run off a 10-week layoff, which trainer Kathy Ritvo says is the perfect spacing for the huge-striding son of Macho Uno. Also perfect is his post 11, as he is not the kind of horse you want to see in traffic. With his towering frame and humongous stride, the outside is where you want him.

There was plenty of Classic activity Tuesday morning, headed by Nonios’ blistering half-mile work in :46 2/5. The son of Pleasantly Perfect is just coming into his own and should be ready for a peak performance on Saturday. He was under no pressure in the work and did it pretty much on his own. Remember, this is an improving 3-year-old who has run a solid second to the Classic favorite Game On Dude, as well as the brilliant Paynter, both in grade I stakes. And he has a race over the track to go along with his sparkling work.

One Classic horse who made a magnificent appearance on the track this morning was longshot Pool Play. It’s hard to believe looking at his radiant near-black coat that this is a 7-year-old horse who has battled through several physical issues and has 32 starts under his belt. What makes him unusual and difficult to figure that only two of his 32 starts have come on the dirt and he’s win both of them – a grade I and grade II stakes. If it’s possible for a horse to peak at age 7, this is the one, based on his looks, demeanor, and the way he seems to handle the track, not to mention his rather bizarre undefeated record on dirt.

Looking at speed figures, his career high Thoro-Graph figure was a “1” in the Stephen Foster in his dirt debut last year. He topped that in his last start, the Hawthorne Gold Cup, earning a 0-plus. Another step forward makes him competitive with these horses (Flat Out and Game On Dude have career-high figures of negative-3 1/2 and negative-3, respectively. Both horses are eligible to regress slightly coming off negative-3 numbers).

Also in his favor is trainer Mark Casse, who is having a career year, with a bevy of stakes horses. Two of his best – Prospective and Stealcase – aren’t even here. Casse believes two of his BC horses – Spring Venture and Delegation – could be special.

A Selection of Breeders' Cup Photos - All Photos by Steve Haskin

Shackleford (left) and Dullahan return from their gallops.

Dullahan had a nice smooth galllop for the Turf.

Fast Bullet will need to be in the Sprint.

The handsome Pool Play heads to the track.

Nonios can't wait to get going prior to his sharp hallf-mile work.

A sleepy, libber-lipped Awesome Feather before going to the track.

Nonios strike a handsome pose following his :46 2/5 work.

Alpha returning from his gallop.

Another of Alpha.

Trinniberg always takes a good photo.

To Honor and Serve heads to the track.

Flat Out and Bill Mott.

A little TLC for Point of Entry.

Flat Out hits the hay rack after arriving.

Royal Delta checks out her new surroundings.

Spring in the Air heads to the track.


Leave a Comment:

Karen in Indiana

Thanks for the photos, Steve - they are the next best thing to being there! How nice is it there?

Nonios has been under the radar improving, I think next year will be his.

30 Oct 2012 6:58 PM
anita b

Hi Steve,

 Great article--love the pictures of Awesome Feather and Alpha in


 Send some of that sun and warm weather to the east coast----dry up all the water in the tunnels/subways. And melt the snow.

 enjoy the Breeders Cup. Anita Carter

30 Oct 2012 7:40 PM
Lammtarra's Arc

That nonios is one fine looking Colt!. Go Mucho Macho man!!! My Classic pick!

30 Oct 2012 7:41 PM

Thanks again for all the great pictures.  More! More!  I'm not at all familiar with the European

Juvenile Turfers: can you give us a look?

30 Oct 2012 7:43 PM

With the track configuration at SA being similar to the layout at Churchill I gotta figure that starting post 11 and 12 with MMM and THAS have to break and get position because GOD FL ALPHA and FO will have the inside.Nonios is an interesting now contender working in 46and 2 coming off a second place to GOD but at 9 panels.If the others dont do enough early GOD will probably hang on this year,but everyone involved knows this the question is will someone like Handsome Mike,Alpha or Nonios throw a fly in the ointment and go with GOD with a determined early run if that happens he might not even run in the exacta.None of these horses run blazingly fast early like for instance Bode did in the Derby they just have high cruising speed and reel off one 12 second quarter after another and if one of them is ahead and gets first jump like the most probable pacesetter GOD it will be over mid stretch.

30 Oct 2012 8:09 PM

Steve, can you post a picture of Gantry (BC Sprint)?  I was his yearling groom in KY - he was my favorite colt!  So proud of him and all he has done!

30 Oct 2012 8:20 PM

What a great post for Mucho Macho Man; he won't get boxed in as he did in his previous race. And surely has a rider who knows how to handle a big horse:  Mike Smith. Mike Smith, has tried to rectifiy the record of his great mount, Holy Bull. He made the loss in the Ky Derby up to the Bull by winning the Derby on his son,Giacomo. And now he has the opportunity to make it up to Bull by riding in the Classic. (Holy Bull, was ineligable to run in the Breeders Cup Classic.) I hope you get to interview Mike Smith about his special relationship with the Bull and his progeny. It's awesome that you are at Santa Anita this week. Enjoy the BC and all that it has to offer. Hope you family did well with the storm in NJ and NY. Best wishes.

30 Oct 2012 8:37 PM

Who can deny the Breeders Cup is the greatest event in thoroughbred industry.

30 Oct 2012 8:39 PM

By the way, thanks for the great photos of the contenders at Santa Anita.

30 Oct 2012 8:41 PM

I'm going to see them in the flesh! It's been on my bucket list! Can't wait!

30 Oct 2012 9:19 PM
Paula Higgins

Loved this Steve. I am a Mucho Macho Man fan for a while now, so this was nice to see. I hope he does well. Would love to see him win. On another note, since you have posted this, you must have done o.k. through the hurricane. I thought of you and my sister/brother-in-law in Hoboken yesterday. They are on the highest ground in Hoboken so they are o.k we think (can't get through to them). All of the people effected by this are in my prayers.

30 Oct 2012 9:41 PM

Steve, you have the best job in the world. Thanks for the gorgeous photos. I admire your choice of subject as well, most are my favorites as well.

I remember during the inception of the Breeders' Cup series how tired many of the competitors looked, these days the horses shimmer with 'rude good health.'

The excitement is really starting to build.

30 Oct 2012 10:07 PM
El Kabong

Steve, great shots. They're like tasty appetizers before the ultimate meal.  I can't wait to get there. I've paced a grove line in my dining room floor.  Checking this, doing that, yada yada yada.

Karen in Indiana,

Well said about Nonios. My sentiments exactly. This event should be a great learning event for him, but Steve's photo shows he's contemplating much right now.  He'll need to race smart against the big kids.

30 Oct 2012 10:19 PM
Old Old Cat

Dullahan with four feet off ground.. great shot.. and you don't have a high speed repeating camera..  the pros should be jealous.. they take fifteen  or twenty shots and hope for one like yours.. quite you have a secret method like others I know..

30 Oct 2012 10:33 PM

Off subject, Steve, but I cannot get over what a beautiful head Alpha has.  So refined.  Just gorgeous.

30 Oct 2012 11:02 PM
spectacular bid

Steve, i must have been right next to you and not known it this morning as Ive got almost identical pictures..if i see you Wednesday, I'll have to say hello..what a great week its been being at the track in the mornings.. animal kingdom has been a dream to photograph this week for me

31 Oct 2012 12:47 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

Wonderful photos!  And I really enjoy reading the behind the scenes stories of the contenders.  I'm glad you are enjoying Santa Anita.  I am so excited to get there.

31 Oct 2012 7:20 AM

Great photos and copy from Santa Anita--great place to be this last few days! Rooting for Royal Delta!

31 Oct 2012 10:19 AM

I second that thoroughbred_gal!

I keep looking for pictures of Gantry in his breeders cup towel. My hubby works with him and I head out from Louisiana Friday.

I have a funny picture of how he got through hurricane Isaac this summer. :). Wish I could post that.

Steve, I love all your pictures! I always get excited when I see you have a new post up.

31 Oct 2012 2:28 PM

Old Old Cat,Steve scares the horse and then snaps the pic it saves lots of money in camera equip.I shure like the looks of that Casse trained horse,very nice coat.Have not made my pics as yet but keep those pics coming and stop scaring the horses lol.

31 Oct 2012 4:40 PM
Senator L

Love the Mucho Macho Man just don't think he'll love the distnace

31 Oct 2012 4:46 PM

What a great set of photos of mountains and horses.  It looks so beautiful.  BC 2012 will be checked off of my bucket list.  Cannot wait.  It looks so beautiful at SA

31 Oct 2012 11:19 PM

ASPERCEL - So great to hear your hubby works with Gantry!  I have followed him since he was a baby. I was his yearling groom. I wish there was a way I could hear all about him as an adult and see your photos! I too have been searching everywhere online for coverage of him at SA.shaunaharrigan at yahoo dotcom

01 Nov 2012 1:52 PM

Have a special place in my heart for To Honor And Serve.

How do I pick ONE horse to win the Classic when I love so many of them.  THAS for one, Royal Delta, Ron The Greek, Awww'''almost all of them really...can't wait.

01 Nov 2012 3:59 PM
Pedigree Ann

Slew - Love has no place in handicapping. I was a booster of 3M last year, saying "Wait until he grows up; then you'll see something." I wanted him to blossom and run the board this year.

Well, he's grown up now and has shown flashes of brilliance at 9f, but the form doesn't quite add up. He was great at GP but was dusted by Successful Dan and Fort Larned for no good reason at CD. He beat the 'not quite up to this level' Hymn Book and Trickmeister at Belmont, and couldn't get by To Honor and Serve at Saratoga. Maybe he needs more growing up time - some horses don't peak until 5,  when they are fully mature. At least I hope so. But much as I love him, I can't back him off of a 2.5 month layoff with the form he's shown this year.

02 Nov 2012 8:03 AM

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