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Wednesday, January 15, 2014
'Macho Man' eyes another Classic

By Claire Novak
Bloodhorse



Breeders' Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man towers over the competition for his 2014 debut Jan. 18 in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park, a race that for him has alternately been a triumph and a debacle.

Reeves Thoroughbred Racing's 6-year-old son of Macho Uno won the 1 ⅛-mile contest convincingly in 2012, but did not finish in the 2013 edition, run over a sloppy track last January.

Following that race he was found to be suffering a respiratory virus, one treated for several months at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. Back on track in June, the big bay finished third in the Criminal Type Stakes at Belmont Park and was third in the Whitney Invitational at Saratoga Race Course before winning the Awesome Again at Santa Anita Park en route to his Breeders' Cup Classic score. He is a nominee for Eclipse Award honors in the older horse and Horse of the Year categories, to be awarded the evening of Jan. 18.

Assigned high weight of 123 pounds for the Florida Sunshine Millions and breaking from post 4 under Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, Mucho Macho Man should have no trouble putting away the five fellow Florida-breds who come forward to contest him -- all assigned 117 pounds.

Our Sugar Bear Stable's hard-knocking Gourmet Dinner is the only other graded stakes winner in the field, that accomplishment earned far back in the 6-year-old runner's career when he took the 2010 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes. In recent times, the son of Trippi was third with a mild rally in the Dec. 7 Broad Brush Stakes at Laurel Park going the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic distance. He looks back to an Oct. 20 Parx Racing allowance at one mile for his latest victory for trainer Robert Triola.

Other familiar faces include Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Bernie the Maestro, a 7-year-old son of Bernstein who won the Oct. 5 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial Stakes at Indiana Downs and also won minor stakes at Calder Casino & Race Course in 2010. He was sixth last time out in a Dec. 7 starter stakes going 1 ⅛ miles at Gulfstream for trainer Mike Maker.

Joshua's Comprise will ditch the blinkers as one of two starters saddled by Barry Rose for the Rose Family Stable; to his inside on the rail will be stablemate Decaf Again. Ronald Gaffney trainee Rule Number Six moves back from turf to dirt and seeks his first victory for Emmy Gaffney and Jessica Savin since May 2013.