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.

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