Mucho Macho Man His 'Old Self'

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5:42 pm EST

Mucho Macho Man breezed four furlongs at Gulfstream Park today under exercise rider Mike Heera, and trainer Kathy Ritvo said following the move that he was his old self.

The son of Macho Uno was clocked in :48.40 (8/32) in preparation for a start in the Grade II Louisiana Derby in three weeks.

“He went great. It was just what we wanted,” said trainer Kathy Ritvo, who said she was particularly pleased with how Mucho Macho Man finished. “He’s been great, super, just like his old self. He’s come out of his race very well.”

His professional performance winning the Grade II Risen Star, in which he relaxed just off the early pace while racing without blinkers for the first time, prompted Ritvo to return to Fair Grounds for the Louisiana Derby as Mucho Macho Man’s final Kentucky Derby prep.

“I think the distance will be good for him. I think he likes the track and definitely the two turns,” said Ritvo, who will work her colt two more times before shipping to New Orleans. “He’s definitely more mature than he was when we were back in New York (last year).”

Mucho Macho Man will be ridden again by Rajiv Maragh, who was a last-minute replacement in the Risen Star for regular rider Eibar Coa, who was hospitalized with a broken C4 vertebra in a racing spill at Gulfstream the day before the race. The colt’s majority owner Dean Reeves visited Coa in Memorial Regional Hospital Friday to present him with a check for $18,000, the amount of the winning jockey’s share of the Risen Star purse.

Mucho Macho Man’s success has been a career highlight for his trainer, Kathy Ritvo, who received a heart transplant in November 2008.

“It’s amazing; it’s amazing; it’s amazing,” Ritvo said. “Every day is a great day to have my health and have a good horse. I’m so blessed, so lucky."

Mucho Macho Man was joined on the Gulfstream work tab by Rogue Romance, who is also scheduled to run in the Louisiana Derby. The Ken McPeek-trained colt, who closed to finish third behind the Ritvo trainee in the Risen Star, breezed four furlongs in :48.60.

--Edited from track notes