Belmont Stakes Lineup: Mucho Macho Man Profile
by Trevor Whenham - 6/2/2011
Last race: It’s hard to refer to Mucho Macho Man’s run in the Preakness as anything other than a major disappointment. He got himself into some trouble out of the gate when he brushed Dialed In, and he never seemed to get his head back into it. He fought his rider throughout the race and that led to a less-than-ideal path being taken. He was still in a decent position to strike at the top of the stretch, but he had no kick at all and wound up a lousy sixth as the third choice in the field. Jockey Rajiv Maragh did not have a good day, but even if he had been perfect it didn’t seem like it was going to be a career day for the horse. The only real positive you can take out of the race is that he came back healthy.
Career highlight: On Feb. 19 the horse won the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. That’s an important prep race that has produced some nice horses like Lawyer Ron, Pyro, and Friesan Fire in recent years. In that race he led most of the way and was pulling away from second-place finisher Santiva -- another Belmont hopeful -- at the wire. Up until the point he had been a horse that seemed to like to press the pace. After that, though, the decision was clearly made to hold him back and make him more of a pace stalker than a pace setter.
You could argue that that hasn’t been a total success. He was third in the Louisiana and Kentucky Derbies, and then sixth in the Preakness. As it stands now this horse reminds me too much of a Hard Spun or a Free House. Both of those horses gave it their all in the Triple Crown races and they were easy to like, but they never were quite good enough to beat the top horses in the class. Here’s hoping that the story is different here -- I’ve already bet and lost on this horse three races in a row, and I will be tempted to bet on him again if he is part of the Belmont Stakes lineup, as expected.
Jockey: Ramon Dominguez. This was a much-needed change. Rajiv Maragh is not a bad rider, but he clearly didn’t fit the horse. Dominguez doesn’t have a Triple Crown or Breeders’ Cup win, but he is still a top-level rider. He has led the nation in wins twice and earnings once, won the Eclipse award for top jockey last year, and is tops in the country in wins again this year. He knows Belmont well, and he is more aggressive than Maragh. It seems like this horse has the tendency to get lazy and settle for whatever he can get. Dominguez will push him to do better. A definite and significant upgrade.
Trainer: Kathy Ritvo. If you have watched the coverage of the two Triple Crown races so far, then you are all too aware that Ritvo is a heart transplant survivor. It’s a good story. The fact is, though, that beyond that story Ritvo just isn’t at the caliber of some of the other trainers in the field. Her high-level success is limited, and she’s fishing in a much bigger pond than she is used to here. She is capable of winning this race -- if Chip Woolley can win the Derby than any trainer can win any race -- but she doesn’t give the horse the advantage that others give theirs.
Pedigree: He’s the son of two-year-old champion Macho Uno and grandson of Horse of the Year Holy Bull, so he has some impressive blood in his veins. The concern, though, is that he doesn’t have a lot of reasons to make us think he is a horse with a lot of stamina. The distance of the Belmont is, at best case scenario, a stretch for him. He was moving well at the end of the Derby, though, so that’s at least some reason to be optimistic.
Running style: As I said before, he used to be a horse that sat on the pace, but now he seems to sit off of it and stalk it from the middle of the pack. Since his best results came when he was more aggressive, though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him further forward than we have come to expect recently if the pace doesn’t end up being particularly fast early on.
Belmont prognosis: As you can probably tell I am really torn with this horse. On one hand I really like him, and because he is young and huge I think he’s only going to get better. On the other hand, I am not thrilled with his training or his stamina attributes, and that this point I’m not sure if he is focused enough or good enough to win. My feeling is that he will be a part of the trifecta, but not on top. A win isn’t impossible, though. I think he will win a nice race or two before the year is over.
Doc’s Sports will release our expert Belmont Stakes picks for the third leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday, June 11. You can purchase our full Belmont package for just $20. You will get Doc’s win-place-show bets plus a variety of exotics for one low price, and if we don’t show you a profit then our next batch of horse racing picks come free of charge. Doc is an expert against the Belmont odds and he has been putting in lots of extra time on this race and thinks there will be some big profits on Saturday.
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