Macho's The Man

Mucho Macho Man at Saratoga Race Course, Aug. 12, 2012 (C. Novak)

TAKE Mucho Macho Man, posing in the shadows of a tree-lined path at Saratoga Race Course, out of this decade and roll him back to the past.

The lanky bay brings to mind racing's glory days; runners like Late Bloomer, Bowl Game, Stage Door Johnny, and Key to the Mint. That will to win, that kind of ability, is fostered by old-school philosophy.

Never rush a horse.
Let him lead you to where he wants to go.
Pay attention to the athlete, don't just conform him to your plans.

Winner of four of his five starts for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing in recent times, Mucho Macho Man is finding his best stride this year. He's a lean, mean racing machine who fired on all cylinders when drawing off to a 2 1/2-length coup in the July 7 Suburban Handicap (gr. II) under a hand ride at Belmont Park last time out. It was a powerful win that both impressed Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith (his first time aboard, cruising like a Ferrari) and stamped the colt as a serious handicap contender.

Mucho Macho Man cruises in the Suburban Handicap (Coglianese Photo)

Trainer Kathy Ritvo, a heart transplant recipient whose touching story captivated racing fans when "Macho" was racing toward a third-place finish in last year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), will saddle her big runner to a start in the Sept. 1 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) as the 5-2 morning line favorite. (Click here to read Pat Forde's May 2011 ESPN profile of the pint-sized dynamo and her leggy charge).

Once a gangly youngster who required time to grow into his inherent talent, the 4-year-old son of Macho Uno seems to have done just that—all 17.2 hands of him. He's also quite the fan favorite, with more than 5,200 followers on his Facebook page.

Back in February of 2011, Mucho Macho Man galloped his way onto the Triple Crown scene almost unwittingly, winning Fair Grounds' Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) as an actual 2-year-old though technically classified 3 by Jockey Club standards. A June 15 foal, he completed that Derby trifecta off a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), but turned in two less-satisfying efforts—sixth in the Preakness (gr. I) and seventh in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

"Macho's" first Blood-Horse cover (Lou Hodges, Jr.)

When the pressure of the Triple Crown trail was over, Ritvo was able to step back and allow her runner to come into his own.

"He's developed naturally this year and we've paid attention to his development," said Finn Green, racing manager for Dean and Patti Reeves. "I was really glad after the Triple Crown that we were able to give him time."   

Following a post-Belmont rest, the big horse won a mile allowance in November at Aqueduct by 5 3/4 lengths, doubled back to take the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes over Ron The Greek and Turbo Compressor at the start of the year, and rolled to two-length victory in the March 10 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II). His only loss came to Successful Dan and Fort Larned in the May 4 Alysheba Stakes (gr. III).   

Mucho Macho Man wins the FL Sunshine Millions Classic (Coglianse Photo)

"He'd probably do twelves all day long," said Green. "He's very easy on himself; he has a good mind, a great stride, and great aerobics. It's a combination of attributes that ends up being the individual attribute."

Other Woodward contenders include 2011 Travers (gr. I) winner Stay Thirsty and Cigar Mile (gr. I) winner To Honor and Serve. For a full preview, click here.

" He deserves to be racing with those runners; he's the real deal," Green remarked. "A horse like this makes everybody look good."

Old-fashioned Mucho Macho Man

Watch Mucho Macho Man win the 2012 Suburban Handicap:


Leave a Comment:

Past The Grandstand

Great piece, Claire! I really enjoyed it, just as I have always loved your writing. Mucho Macho Man is such a terrific horse with wonderful connections! I wish Macho and his connections the best of luck in the Woodward.

Also, I hope you and other Mucho Macho Man fans will enjoy my piece on him, for which I talked to Patti Reeves. You can read it here:

Thanks! Go Mucho Macho Man!

29 Aug 2012 7:28 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Truer words have never been spoken(old-school philosophy) Nice to have you here Claire. Kathy has done an exceptional job with Macho. It will be a big upset if he loses the Woodward.

29 Aug 2012 7:45 PM
By a long nose

If Ritvo knew how to shoe the horse he could have been a Triple Crown race winner. A more capable trainer would have never let that happen two races in a row. You have to call a spade a spade.

29 Aug 2012 8:07 PM
Karen in Indiana

He has been the model of consistency. If ever a horse deserved a Grade I win, it's him. Best wishes!

29 Aug 2012 9:43 PM

Moochie has been my hero since I started watching him on the Derby trail early last year.  Love this horse and wish him well on Saturday.  I love that his connections are being patient with him, that they are keeping him happy and healthy.  With his shadow roll and his huge frame -- according to Dream Team he is actually slightly taller than 17.2, approaching 17.3 h, making him taller than Zenyatta -- he reminds me of Big Z when he's running in the stretch, though he doesn't come from as far off the pace as she used to, which I'm kind of glad he doesn't! I want him to win so bad I'm a nervous wreck!  Thanks for the pictures and the nice article.

29 Aug 2012 9:48 PM

Thanks for a terrific article about a very classy horse and his team. There are so many stories associated with him, his trainer, and his grandsire (Holy Bull) and his grandsire's original jockey (Mike Smith).

Although MMM does not look like the Bull, he is athletic, fast, and has the attitude and work ethic of his grandsire.

And it's not happenstance that Ramon Dominguez gave up his mount on MMM; the Racing Gods have been at work here. This is really something for Mike Smith to be his jockey after he had ridden the Bull and his son Giacomo. Mike promised John Sherriffs a win in the Derby on Giacomo to redeem the Bull's reputation. The Bull had supposedly been slipped a tranquillizer before the Derby; he was listless in the Derby and didn't run in the other two legs of the triple crown.

Then, the Bull was not invited to run in the Breeders Cup. Mike Smith will make it up for him in November by riding his grandson in the Classic.

Mike Smith is one of a kind and is very loyal to great horses he has been associated with.

29 Aug 2012 10:34 PM

MMM was my Derby pick, have loved him since before that.  Great thanks to Kathy R. & the Reeves for bring out MMM's best -- and when I asked the Macho Man if he'll win the Classic a few weeks ago (while rubbing his beautiful head), he gave a single, emphatic, not-to-be-doubted "Yes."  You go, Big Guy.

29 Aug 2012 11:53 PM
lunar spook


30 Aug 2012 8:31 AM
lunar spook


30 Aug 2012 8:34 AM
Pedigree Ann

The pseudo-Woodward hardly has a G1-type field. Rule, proven to be a G2-type; Gourmet Dinner, not even a G3 type at 4; Trickmeister, beaten off in all G1 starts; Stay Thirsty, never won against horses not of his own generation; To Honor and Serve, one-turn is his thing at 4; Cease, only stakes win of the year at a bullring.

The Woodward at Belmont was a real G1, especially in the days when it was 10f. This race is a faint shadow of its former self, just like the pseudo-Suburban. Cutting 10f races down to 9f doesn't help the breed or the racing program - why run two 9f races for older horses at one meet, anyway?

30 Aug 2012 10:10 AM
Love 'em all

Love, love reading about "Macho" who was known much earlier as

"Lazarus" and "Mr. Green Jeans".  

Seems he was due in late May but decided to present himself on Father's Day that year ... and has quite a story to tell his offspring  about that remarkable day.  His story is too funny!

Cheers and best wishes to Mucho Macho Man!  He's a favorite.

Thanks for the article.  

30 Aug 2012 1:38 PM

Thanks for such a lovely and well written article.  It made tears come to my eyes to read it, but of course I'm biased.  Dean and I are so appreciative of the fans and all the support given to this horse.  

30 Aug 2012 3:30 PM

Mucho Macho Man was my pick for the Kentucky Derby.  His Triple Crown campaign was a bit disappointing, but I never lost faith in him.  I am happy to see him developing into the star I always thought he could be and we certainly need a few of them in racing right now.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that MMM has great Fall campaign that includes winning the Classic and HOTY honors.

30 Aug 2012 4:18 PM

I love my MMMan. I have kept up with him since the day that I read a story about him in the Gwinnett County paper. I was so happy that we had owners of a thoroughbred living in Georgia and real close to me. Besides Zenyatta he has been my favorite horse. I'm so happy he is going into his first grade1. I'm praying for his safety and for the win. I love you MMM always. Kisses. Rita

30 Aug 2012 6:25 PM
Stellar Jayne

Wonderful article about MMM and his connections.  He is big, beautiful and always shows up!  He was a marvel to watch during the TC at his tender age and not yet fully developed physically.  I hope that Mike Smith continues as his jockey, as he brings excellent experience riding the 'giants' - re: Zenyatta.

I'll be rooting for him during the Woodward!

30 Aug 2012 10:10 PM

such a good lookin' guy, he looks like a winner. safe trip big guy, always....

05 Sep 2012 2:09 PM

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