Gourmet Dinner, Macho Man Reunion

The lives of horses, like humans, can easily be dictated by the paths chosen for them. It is called destiny or fate, and who knows how history might be changed had certain events not taken place.

We’re all aware of the fairy tale path that has led Mucho Macho Man to fame and fortune, from his own story to the stories of Kathy Ritvo, Gary Stevens, and Finn Green.

But if not for nine words uttered by Dean Reeves on a hot July afternoon in 2010, who knows where the Mucho Macho Man story would have been played out and with whom.

On Saturday, Mucho Macho Man will be the overwhelming favorite in the Sunshine Millions Classic, a race that has provided the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for the son of Macho Uno.

When he approaches the gate, he might want to lean over and say hi to Gourmet Dinner and thank him for all the accolades that have recently been bestowed upon him, as well as the all the awards and all the riches he has accumulated over the past three years.

You see, it appeared as if Gourmet Dinner was destined to wind up in the hands of Dean and Patti Reeves, who were looking for a horse to buy in Florida. They were touted on a son of Trippi named Gourmet Dinner, who had recently won his career debut by a length at odds of 9-1 and looked to have a bright future.

The horse finishing second after battling on the lead all the way through torrid fractions was named Mucho Macho Man, a giant of a horse and extremely late foal who was only in this race because he had been scratched from a race the week before after he got nicked up when the horse in the stall next to him flipped in the gate.

Dean Reeves appeared all set to buy Gourmet Dinner, that is until he watched the race and uttered those nine fateful words: “Call me crazy, but I like the second horse.” So profound would those words become, the Reeves recently named a horse Call Me Crazy.

So, Reeves contacted Mucho Macho Man’s trainer Bill White and owner Dream Team One Racing Stable, and shortly after, a deal was made for majority interest in the horse (they would eventually buy out Dream Team), who they turned over to trainer Tim Ritvo, and we all know what happened after that.

Said Mucho Macho Man’s breeder Carole Rio, “Had he started that first time, I think he would have won and the Reeves’ never would have seen him in the maiden race with Gourmet Dinner (only a week later). It was in the cards for the Reeves to own him and Kathy Ritvo to train him. I think it all worked out best for this horse. I feel the horse really connected to Kathy. There was a reason why they scratched him from that first start. It’s just amazing to me the way it wound up. He’s just meant to be where he is.”

At first, Reeves’ decision didn’t look all that smart. While Mucho Macho Man was finishing third in a maiden race at odds of 9-5, Gourmet Dinner was winning the first two legs of the Florida Stallion Series – the Dr. Fager and the Affirmed – before finishing second in the rich In Reality Division. He followed that up with an impressive victory in the $1 million Delta Jackpot. So through Nov. 20, Mucho Macho Man had accumulated earnings of $70,643, while Gourmet Dinner, the horse the Reeves’ could have had and intended to buy, had amassed earnings of $809,660.

By February, Gourmet Dinner’s earnings had climbed to over $989,000 with a fourth in the CashCall Futurity, a third in the Holy Bull Stakes, and a second in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. In the Holy Bull, he again finished ahead of Mucho Macho Man, who was fourth.

But that is where the fortunes of both horses changed. Gourmet Dinner suffered an injury and was laid up for an entire year, while Mucho Macho Man began his climb to stardom with a victory in the Risen Star Stakes and thirds in the Louisiana Derby and Kentucky Derby.

When Gourmet Dinner returned, he was never the same horse, and although he ran well in an occasional stakes, he could manage only two victories in his next 19 starts.

With a victory and three thirds in his last four starts, here he is again, almost three years later, facing Mucho Macho Man. But this time it is David facing Goliath, and it would take an upset of that magnitude to knock off the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and finalist for Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male.

Was it fate that guided both horses to this place and time? Was it fate that shined brightly on one horse and cast a shadow on the career of the other? Would the story of Mucho Macho Man taken the same kind of path had the Reeves purchased Gourmet Dinner, leaving Mucho Macho Man to go through life without Kathy Ritvo, perhaps remaining with Bill White at Calder his entire career?

When you watch the two horses walk into that gate on Saturday, just think of their respective journeys that brought them here, and then say you don’t believe in fate. Who knows, maybe after all these years, Mucho Macho Man will allow his old friend, to whom he owes so much, one final moment of glory.


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Love 'em all

What a hoot!  Just read, for at least the 50th time, at another site, your "Macho Man Was Born to Run" before coming back to this site one last time today, when I happened to see this article.  All we need now is for the late Paul Harvey to come back and say ... "stay tuned for ... The Rest of The Story" .... to make it complete.  

To me, MMM's story is just one of the very best out there, and all thanks to you, Mr. Haskin.  Keep these stories coming, please.    

I'll be rooting for both these fellas .... MMM to win and GD a half length back for second.

And as Paul Harvey would say, "Good day."

16 Jan 2014 6:05 PM
Mary Jo in Florida

This article will go in my "Gourmet Dinner" file. I have followed him since his days at Calder. I worried about him after he was vanned from Gulfstream Park (same day Uncle Mo won there)and a few years later got to feed him mints at his barn in Saratoga. MMM is a star, and rightfully so, but Gourmet Dinner has his fans and we aren't going away!

16 Jan 2014 9:33 PM
Greg R

If Gourmet Dinner had been able to keep going while he was on a roll, who knows what he could have accomplished?  Maybe he's getting good again, just in time to duel Mucho down to the wire!  BTW, I wonder how long horses can remember each other, when they didn't know each other well.

17 Jan 2014 12:05 AM
Pedigree Ann

Anybody find it odd that the winner of the BC Classic is coming back in a STATE-BRED race? One whose time has come and gone, since the Fla/Cal rivalry part of it has fallen away? Cheap win in a big-money nothing race. This is racing in 2014 - don't run against the tough fields, collect your bloodless wins, preserve your 'brand' for the stallion career ahead. Like the University of Kentucky, scheduling 'cupcake teams' from the lower divisions so that they can get enough wins to go to a 'toilet' bowl game, because they only can win a couple games a year in the SEC.

(Disgruntled UK alumna - graduate degrees, not undergrad. My undergrad school couldn't even beat the Laverne JC Junior Varsity. For you youngsters, this dates from the time when freshmen couldn't play Varsity football, so the frosh had a separate team.)

17 Jan 2014 9:23 AM

I have followed the career of both horses and I truly believe MMM is a great champion because of Gourmet Dinner. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Gourmet Dinner beat his old rival one more time? A duel all the way down to the wire. One thing I do know is that anything can happen in horse racing.

17 Jan 2014 11:24 AM
lunar spook

PEDIGREE ANN - I partially agree with your statement and have noticed a trend in recent years where the fields are watered down and the trainers and owners seem to dodge and skip around each other to boost their records , however I do admire the connections for continuing to run macho when these days most would have retired him after the bc classic and ran him to the stud shed !

17 Jan 2014 12:01 PM
Proud Acres

That makes this racing coming up to be extra interesting! Thank you for sharing! I'm a big fan of MMM & you Mr. Haskins.  Have a great day!

17 Jan 2014 1:05 PM
Matthew W

Old Time Hockey and Mr Stevens are a live team tomorrow in the Sunshine Millions Turf! On top!In the Sprint, Fort Loudon should work out a good trip from off the (hot) pace, and I also LOVE the chances of Black Diamond Cat! He looks way live to come'a'rolling late with his ample kick!I'm presently en route to Los Alamitos for a look-see at their one mile racetrack----with the sweeping far turn, tight clubhouse turn and long home stretch! Live Cali shooters today: Santa Anita Race 3 #1 Love Tale (4-1)....race 4 #4 Negra Tomasa (20-1) the only filly in the race with a two turn dirt win....race 5 Maxx The Giant (9-2)....and Golden Gate race 3 #5 Clemkadiddlehopper (5-2)....race 6 #4 So Elite (9-2)....slim pickins/small fields---then again, it isn"t every day that I like five horses!

17 Jan 2014 2:25 PM
lunar spook

MATTHEW W. - I must respectively disagree with u on the sunshine millions turf , the smart pick is SPRING UP

17 Jan 2014 3:06 PM

Pedigree Ann:

I am hoping that the Sunshine Millions is simply a prep, a lucrative prep, for the Santa Anita Handicap.  That was the plan last year before everything went wrong in the slop.  The Big Cap would be a fitting spot for an elite older horse, particularly one that loves Santa Anita.

On the subject of weak schedules, and those schedules being rewarded, I would be remiss not to voice my disagreement with Mucho Macho Man being one of the 3 HoY finalists, and will be disappointed if he and not Game on Dude wins the older male Eclipse.

Of the 5 MMM starts, 2 were in ungraded stakes, and he lost both.  After losing the Whitney, he was supposed to start in the Woodward but was scratched when the track came up sloppy.  While valid, having to avoid wet tracks isn't a good characteristic, at least if outside Cali. And after winning his 2 grade 1s at Santa Anita between late Sept and early Nov, MMM could have run in the Clark and really solidified his HoY chances and sealed the older male division.  Instead, it was the horse with 5 graded stakes wins and 3 grade 1s over 3 different tracks, the horse that had run steadily from early February, that was in the gate for the Clark.

And don't get me started on Wise Dan for older male.  Unless we are going to allow dirt runner to win turf awards, then I don't think a turf horse with one accidental poly start, aloss, should be voted older male.  There already is a perfectly fine award for Wise Dan, champion turf male, and a nice 2nd award, the HoY, which he deserves to win again.  If people really want to give turf horses the award for older male, let's just get rid of all the turf categories and let them go up against main track runners for each age and sex.  Otherwise, it is blatantly unfair for main track runners to be eligible for just one divisional award but for turf runners to be eligible for two.

18 Jan 2014 12:24 AM
Pedigree Ann

THe big problems creating weak fields in stakes races these days are 1) the way trainers manage stakes horses and 2) the number of stakes races for the number of horses.

Point 1: When stakes horses were running 2-3 weeks apart, they ran in more races - the San Carlos, the San Pasqual, the San Antonio AND the Big 'Cap, or the

Malibu, San Fernando, the Strub AND the Big 'Cap. Also most of these races were handicaps where the top horses had to carry over 126 lbs and give away significant weight, meaning more of the lightweights' connections will give it a go. Today, racing secretaries are afraid to give top horses the weights they deserve (trainer/owner pressure), so the number of lightweights who sign up is reduced.

2) In 2007 (the last year the Blood-Horse published a hard-copy SW book), there were 56,361 races run, 2,675 (4.75%) of which were stakes races. In 1978, there were 69,498 races run, 1,849 (2.66%) of which were stakes races. In 1960, there were 37,661 races run, of which 714 (1.90%) were stakes races. While the number of races has started to fall, the number of stakes races has kept increasing, so that there are something like twice as many opportunities for a horse with some talent to become a SW and earn stakes money than in the past.

Together these two factors lead to the weak fields we see in most 'name' stakes races today.

18 Jan 2014 11:41 AM
Paula Higgins

O.k. I understand the point being made that some of the top horses are being sent to certain races to avoid other top competition. I get it. But I think there is something to be said for keeping a horse's confidence up by putting them in less competitive races every now and then so they have a good chance of winning. I had no problem with MMM going to the Sunshine Millions Classic AND he just won, so I am pretty happy all around :).

18 Jan 2014 6:26 PM

Share Belief was voted Champion 2YO colt much to my displeasure and no doubt to the many fans of New Year’s Day. I can see no legitimate reason for the Eclipse being awarded to him. I continue to be baffled by some of these results. Did the fans of New Year’s Day use the wrong parameters in their evaluation of the performances of both colts?  It appears beating the best no longer makes one the best!

Is this just another case of twisted logic? This is the same type of logic that allowed for the labeling of Uncle Mo as the next Secretariat; Union Rags as the finest physical specimen ever seen; Verrazano as a man amongst boys and freak. Wow!

The connections of New Year’s Day must have been cognizant of the fact that no next out MSW winner had ever won the G1, BCJ. They would have also noted that the field contained four G1 winners. The combination of those two pieces of cold facts was sufficient to bypasses a graded stakes debut for a promising colt. Despite the significant challenges and the historic negative, New Year’s Day was considered good enough overcome them. He scored an emphatic victory.

If his history making victory in the BCJ despite the challenges was not good enough to trump Share Belief‘s victories over overmatched opponents that he had previously defeated, then something is seriously wrong with the evaluation and voting system.

I know I will be seen as whining Coldfacts engaged in in yet another rants. That might very well be the case. I have often chastised myself for not putting in the time to become a distinguished academic. It is as only then would I able to understand the twisted logic displayed by supposedly learned folks.

I am not one to post biblical quotes but one found in book of Acts bring comfort to those not academically inclined. ‘Too much learning maketh thee mad’

19 Jan 2014 11:23 AM

How and why did Wise Dan win the Older Male championship ?  Who were the finalists and what were the numbers in the vote?

19 Jan 2014 3:39 PM

Coldfacts: Why do you like to pick on my favourite horses of yesteryear to embelish your gripe (LOL)? Please give the likes of Uncle Mo, Union Rags and Verrazano a break.

New Years Day scored in the BCJ in a mild upset and you think that he's some standout 2YO thats a sho-in for the Eclipse award? Get real my friend. Shared Belief is not only undefeated but had run up the higest Beyer figures of any 2YO and won his Grade 1 races looking like a crackerjack colt, albeit on Synthetics. The Eclipse voters got it right as they usually do in the 2YO category ...go easy bro ...he deserves the award.

Looking back, the voters have gotten it right, almost always, in regards to the Juvenile category except in 2011. With the benefit of hindsight, (since you mentioned his name)don't you think that subsequent Fountain Of Youth and Belmont Stakes winner, Union Rags should've been voted top 2YO in 2011?  Hansen did nothing as a 3YO to vindicate his voters after a contentious 2YO Eclipse debate. Lets see if Shared Belief will answer his critics going forward to the Triple Crown series (unfortunately New Years Day's early retirement didn't help his case).

You might be happy with those "learned and mad" voters in respect of Beholder since they viewed the fillies category with "fuzzy logic" like you did ...denying the legitimate claims of Pincess Of Sylmar. While I'll never belittle Beholder's quality (she's awesome in my view) ...I would've thought that when all factors are considered POS's credentials on the track and on paper made her more deserving. I'll join you in a Bible quote to describe the folly of her owner Ed Stanco, taken from Romans 10:2: Stanco had "zeal ...but not according to knowledge".

Had he and Todd Pletcher sent the filly to the Breders Cup Classic against the boys, as she deserved to be, all of Beholder's impressive victories coming over her home track, Santa Anita would not have eclipsed (pardon the pun) Princess Of Sylmar's claim to the award. I hope that they learn the value of strategic wisdom in sports and I'm not advocating "ducking" rivals here. The filly did everthing asked of her to win the championship and had nothing to gain at the end of a long season going up against the Distaff field. Think of how much more lustre she'd have added to that very formidable BCC line up.  Also think about the change in track bias from day 1 to day 2 at Santa Anita, which shifted to suit her running style. Even if you maintain that Beholder was "restoring order" having been the 2YO champion filly the previous year, you have to admit that POS's owner, Stanco made a "bone-headed" decision as it could not be reasonably argued that her entry to the BCC was a ducking of competition ...ah well, I rest my case.    

19 Jan 2014 6:16 PM
Mary Zinke

No kidding, JayJay, what with California having attained statehood years ago.

19 Jan 2014 9:48 PM


"Don't you think that subsequent Fountain Of Youth and Belmont Stakes winner, Union Rags should've been voted top 2YO in 2011"

Union Rags exhibited brilliance in his MSW, Saratoga Special and Champagne victories. He could have bypassed the BCJ and he would still have been the overwhelming favorite for the Eclipse for Champion 2YO male. However, his connection knew there was big grey on the West coast who was equally impressive and wanted to leave no doubt as to who was the true champion.

The only problem was, the focus was on the wrong grey.

A little known colt that recorded two impressive victories at low level Turf Way Park showed up and defeated the two top rated colts. Union Rags WAS defeated by a narrow a margin. This was hardly a blemish on his record as he was gallant in defeat. Lookin AT Lucky lost the BCJ by a narrow margin and still secured the Eclipse.

Despite the fact that Union Rags had two graded stakes victories on his résumé to Hansen’s one, he did not secure the Eclipse. Why did Hansen secure the Eclipse?

Was it because he was undefeated?

Was it because he won his graded stakes debut in the biggest G1 race for 2YO?

Was it because led from gate to wire repelling all challengers including the previously undefeated Union Rags?

Was it because he defeated the best and consequently proved he was the best on the day.

The above were probably the some of the questions asked and answered in the affirmative.

20 Jan 2014 3:36 AM

I have in the past had exchanges about the difference between American exceptionalism and American arrogance. There seems to be always confusion about the two. I appears a similar confusion exist with logic and twisted logic.

The most glaring example of twisted logic can be found in the voting for 2011 Champion 3YO male. I hate to revisit this example but it left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Shackleford contested the TC series of races. He was 4th in the Kentucky Derby; won the Preakness; was 5th in the Belmont; 2nd in the Haskell, IN Derby and BC Dirt mile. He contested all the top 3YO races, defeated all the top 3YOs including the Derby winner. Despite his achievements and body of work he got 5 votes.

How it conceivable that a colt with such a body of work got < 10 votes?

Caleb Posse who was munching hay while Shakleford and others were laying their bodies down in the major 3YO races and the ultimate test for 3YOs, got 100 plus votes. He was a handful of votes short of denying the Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness runner-up Animal Kingdom the Eclipse.

Victories in 6 1/2F, 7F and 8F grades races trumped by miles, Shackleford’s demanding and challenging BOW.

Using votes as a measure, was Caleb Posse 100 votes better than Shackleford? They had met twice during 2011 and shaded victories

They met twice as 4YOs and again shared with victories.

I guess I am not smart enough to understand twisted logic.

20 Jan 2014 3:49 AM


“New Year’s Day scored in the BCJ in a mild upset and you think that he's some standout 2YO that’s a sho-in for the Eclipse award?”

My dear colleague you must be forgiven for trivializing New Year’s Day historic achievement. Let me put into context what New Year’s Day achieved in his graded stakes debut as compared to Shared Belief.

New Year’s Day made his graded stakes debut in the biggest and richest G1 race for 2YOs as a next MSW winner against 13 opponents. Included in the field were four G1 winners, two grades stakes place finishers and two state bred stakes winners. He chased fraction of 22, 45, 1:09 and found extra in the deep stretch to score an emphatic victory.

Shared Belief made his graded stake debut in the G3 Hollywood Prevue against 4 opponents. The field contained three horses that won either maiden or debut races and one that won a maiden claiming race. He destroyed the field in an emphatic manner.

Which of the graded stakes debuts above do you think merits mention?

Take any of the four G1 winners that contested the BCJ and put them against the Prevue field and what do you think would be the result? This is assuming they take to the synthetic surface.

You will no doubt counter with Share Belief's performance in the CashCall. Well, the 2nd,3rd & 4th place finishers were all previously beaten by New Year's Day.

One colt made history in its graded stake debut in the biggest race for 2YO and the other defeated a bunch of either high level claimers or allowance horses at best and you classify him as a ‘crackerjack colt’

If you have made that declaration to Jack Nickolson you know exactly what his response would be – “Sell crazy someplace else, we're all stocked up here".

20 Jan 2014 4:48 AM
200 lb. Jockey

Pedigree Ann: I think your assessment of Mucho Macho Man and his connections strategy is a bit overblown. Please allow me to make a few points.                (1)MMM was born in Florida, so there is a simple financial incentive to race there. (2) It's winter, and Gulfstream Park is the place to be, be it horse or man.(3)Why wouldn't you run in a $400,000 race on your home track as a warm up? The whole situation was simply convenient and profitable, and good for the horse. Trust me, the long term goal is to make it back to the BC Classic and defend his title, oh and maybe cash a $2,750,000 check and surpass Tiznow as the best BC champion ever. The Reeves stable is taking a huge financial risk for all of the right reasons, and it's a beautiful thing. There is no ducking or dodging going on with this horse, just calculated preparation to defend a world championship.

20 Jan 2014 12:24 PM

Ranagulzion :   I called out your strategy and you know I'm right and you can't stand it lol.  Racing her against the males is the cowardly way to avoid seeing how vulnerable she is.  She never had the eclipse in the bag prior to the Distaff, she needed to win the Distaff regardless of how you spin it.  Ed would've been the joke if he had run her in the Classic, she would've lost and people would question his decision to do that.   You last post proved my point, your plan was to duck the distaff because you never said anything about her winning, just entering the race.  Why ?  Because you know she didn't stand a chance, but you hoped that running against the boys will overshadow the win by Beholder.   It's stupid and cowardly.

Again, there's a reason Ed's a horse owner and you're a blogger, it's amazing to me how you can call him a bonehead.   You remind me of someone in the other blog, a self glorifying blogger, someone who needs a blog to prove something and that most, if not all the time is wrong.  

I'm waiting for your guaranteed triple crown winner this year...January is almost over and you haven't posted the TC winner yet.

20 Jan 2014 2:08 PM

Jay Jay my friend: I fully understand that you don't get it, nevertheless I respect your opinion. You didn't get it that Union Rags wasn't a miler even after he won the Belmont Stakes and you don' get it that fillies can/should compete with colts ...doesn't give me much hope that you'll get it this time BUT I'll try once more with you my buddy.

Lets go: The Eclipse Awards are a matter for voters, that is, they're subject to the strategies of the contestants on and off the track (the latter case often involving lobbying voters, to swing their opinion). Many voters have post-voting blues, regretting that they voted with their "heads" while their "hearts/conscience" tell them that they got it wrong, or vice-versa. The outcome therefore doesn't say conclusively that Beholder, in this case was the better filly and most deserving of the championship. What it says is that the strategy of Princess of Sylmar's connections failed miserably, and unnecessarily so, given that the filly did enough to convince voters (based on history) that her's was a championship season. The fact that she ran no race at all on that speed-biased Santa Anita surface on day 1 of the Breeders Cup was a huge anti-climax coming against her main rival that revelled on the surface ...that situation doomed her bid ...the owner's fault my friend.

You'll definitely need to be an owner and not merely a blogger to understand how Stanco must have felt after the Eclipse awards ...thinking that he could have still had the great joy of Breeders Cup participation without this sinkng feeling of throwing away the Eclipse award that his filly's brilliant year long campaign on several tracks across the country deserved.

Well, I tried again ...see, I haven't given up on you Pal ...hope that you get what I mean this time. Peace.

22 Jan 2014 8:05 AM

Ranagulzion : Every time you respond to my post, you only prove my point even more.  Now you're telling me that you know how the voters feel about their votes.  Do you even know any of the voters personally ?  Do you know the process they go through when they vote ?  And you say that the "voters" were already convinced she's won the championship based on her body of work prior to the distaff... how did you know that ?  Did the voters tell you ?   You say "based on history", what history ?   And if that was true, it would not have mattered if Beholder beat her by a nose or a mile, she still would've been crowned the champion filly.   I don't see you posting and calling the voters boneheads for not voting for Princess.  

I got your point from your initial post, that's why I posted it was a cowardly strategy and I'm quite confident it would not have worked at all and Mr. Stanco would've been questioned instead of gaining more respect.  Here's what you're not getting and to be honest, I'm not really surprised.  You believe that you know things, you speak with a matter of truth like you have inside info on anything and everything horse racing.  I'm here and will be here to remind you every time that you don't.  I promise that I will never give up on you as well :)

If you had preceded your initial post with "I think" or "In my opinion", I wouldn't be having this discussion with you.  There's a big difference between expressing your opinion and claiming truth without facts.

Any number of horse can have a championship year, not just one.  Princess did have a championship year last year, but so did Beholder.  The deciding race was the Distaff, I believe both connections knew it and that's why they were both in the race.   The voters did the right thing IMO.

The Older Male award…not so much, again, just my opinion.  Wise Dan had a championship year as a turf horse, so did Game On Dude as a dirt horse.  WD winning the Older Male championship is more confusing to me.   It's like dirt races didn't matter at all.  I thought GoD beat more competitive horses in his division than WD did in his throughout the year and yes, that includes the BC Turf.

23 Jan 2014 1:42 AM

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