Multiple Grade 2 winner Mucho Macho Man, runner-up in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Classic, completed his serious preparations for the $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap to be run at Saratoga Race Course with a five-furlong breeze the morning of July 27 at the upstate oval.
Alpha, dead heat winner of the 2012 Travers Stakes, and Fast Falcon, under consideration for the 1 ⅛-mile Whitney Aug. 3, were also on the worktab.
Mucho Macho Man, a 5-year-old son of Macho Uno , was clocked in 1:02.18 over the main track for trainer Kathy Ritvo. On July 20, he went five-eighths in 1:01.61.
"He breezed great this morning, and he came back great," Ritvo said. "It was a very good move today. He's been very consistent with his works, and is just feeling great."
Mucho Macho Man is coming off a third-place finish for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing in the Criminal Type overnight stakes at Belmont Park June 14. Ritvo drew a parallel to last year, when Mucho Macho Man was third in the Alysheba Stakes and then came back with a solid victory in the Suburban Handicap, his most recent win.
"I think he's going to run really good this race," Ritvo said. "He's just doing so well. He's going into all his works good, and coming out of all his works good. He's had a very consistent schedule, and his attitude has been great. He's just doing very well."
With a record of 6-5-5 and earnings of $2,365,410 in 20 career starts, Mucho Macho Man is seeking his first Grade 1 victory. In addition to the Breeders' Cup Classic, he was second by a neck in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga last summer.
"The Whitney is a great, great race to win," Ritvo said. "If we can be that blessed and get that lucky, it would be fantastic."
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin sent out Alpha for a five-furlong breeze on the main track as well. Clockers caught Godolphin's 4-year-old son of Bernardini traveling the distance in 1:00.25.
"That was his best work this year," said McLaughlin. "It was really nice to see. He loves it up here. He likes it up here on the main track. We're happy. Most likely we'll be running [in the Whitney]. We'll look at the weights and see who's running. There's an overnight stakes we are nominated to on Aug. 2 [he $100,000 Birdstone] that's a possibility. We'll see."
Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito is also eyeing the Whitney with Richard C. Pell's Fast Falcon, who breezed four furlongs over the Oklahoma training track in :49.98 seconds.
"He worked good," said Zito, who won the Whitney in 2005 and 2008 with Commentator. "It was good, just nice and easy. He's ready. He's been running all year, and he's very consistent. We'll just take it from here."
The 86th edition of the Whitney would be the third Saratoga start for Fast Falcon, who was seventh in the Jim Dandy and third, beaten just a neck by co-winners Alpha and Golden Ticket, in the Travers last year.
In the Travers, Fast Falcon raced near the back of the pack from post 11, had to navigate around Street Life at the three-eighths pole, and came flying on the outside. Street Life was vanned off after finishing last.
"He shows up all the time, and he loves Saratoga," Zito said. "If you remember, he could have easily been last year's Travers winner. If that horse doesn't get hurt and doesn't stop in front of him, he's going to win."
Last time out, the 4-year-old son of Awesome Again was third, beaten 2 ½ lengths by Flat Out in the July 6 Suburban Handicap at Belmont, posting a career-best Beyer figure of 103. Zito said he has lined up jockey Junior Alvarado to ride in the Whitney.