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Whitney Invitational Handicap; Mucho Macho Man Best Shape Of His Career

Mucho Macho Man

Mucho Macho Man, shown here with Nick Petro, is fired up and ready for the 2013 Whitney Invitational Handicap on Saturday, August 3, 2013.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Theresa Ford.

Whitney Invitational Handicap 2013; Mucho Macho Man Best Shape Of His Career:  The 2013 (GI) Whitney Handicap takes place Saturday, August 3, 2013 at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. My family and friends all know Mucho Macho Man is my horse crush and I have been following this guy since his 2011 Derby trail. His story got me after I learned he seemed lifeless after birth and was found not breathing. After several tries, the breeder was about to give up when suddenly he got up and bolted. I thought to myself, this horse is all heart, especially after throwing a shoe in a few pre-derby races too. Until Mucho Macho Man retires, he’ll always be on my ticket.

Lady and The Track recently had a chance to catch up with trainer Kathy Ritvo and owner Patti Reeves to talk about Mucho Macho Man.

Kathy seems comfortable with the present state of Mucho Macho Man saying, “Mucho Macho Man is in the best physical shape of his career.” Ritvo added, “I’m very pleased with his progression. We’ve done everything we need to do. Mucho Macho Man will do the rest.”

Mucho Macho Man has matured over the past few months and knows what’s expected of him. Kathy Ritvo explained, “Mucho Macho Man doesn’t do anything too silly around the barn anymore. He is a professional athlete and he is all business.” Ritvo added, “He takes his job very seriously.”

Owner Patti Reeves, of Reeves Thoroughbred Racing stated, “All of the horses in the Whitney Handicap are big competition for Mucho Macho Man.” Patti Reeves added, “We hope fans will get to see Mucho Macho Man in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.”

Mucho Macho Man

Mucho Macho Man and Edgar Prado will team up for the 2013 Whitney Invitational Handicap and break from post position #2 with 6/1 odds.
PHOTO: Mucho Macho Man and Nick Petro on May 30, 2013 courtesy of Theresa Ford.

The son of Macho Uno, Mucho Macho Man, is a late blooming June baby who recently celebrated his fifth birthday with Reeves Thoroughbred Racing. After coming in second last year to Fort Larned in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Mucho Macho Man was given a couple of months off to rest. He has started twice this year, first in the Sunshine Millions Classic on January 17th where he was pulled up in the slop by jockey Mike Smith. Mucho Macho Man was given several months off to recuperate from an illness at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. He was back on the track at Belmont Park where he finished a tired third in the Criminal Type on June 14th. Mucho Macho Man is still seeking his first (GI) win and has earned $2,365,410 in 20 starts with a record of 6-5-5. He’s had three fantastic workouts over the Saratoga track in the past few weeks, so he’s ready to fire on Saturday! Mucho Macho Man drew post #2 and has Edgar Prado back up again. I like Mike Smith, but I like the jockey change here as Prado has ridden him before.

On his way to winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year, the Ian Wilkes trained Fort Larned started with a win on the Saratoga oval in the 2012 Whitney Handicap and looks to want a repeat this year. The son of E. Dubai is coming off a very dominant win in the June 15th, 2013 (GI) Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs where he won by 6 1/4 lengths. He had his final workout on Monday under returning jockey Brian Hernandez while working 5F in 100.89. With his huge resume, he’s the horse to beat here. Fort Larned drew post #3 and has regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. again.

The other intriguing horse for me is the super speedy and front-running gray from Unbridled’s Song, Cross Traffic, who is trained by Todd Pletcher. He’s had two disappointing seconds in this years Westchester Handicap on April 27th and the Metropolitan Handicap on May the 27th, with two wins prior. Cross Traffic is lightly raced and stepping up in class for the Whitney. He was shipped to Saratoga a month ago where he’s been breezing on the track every weekend so he’s fit and ready to roll. Cross Traffic exits from post #4 with John Velazquez in the irons.

Fast Falcon

Nick Zito’s Fast Falcon will break from post position #8 with 15/1 odds in the 2013 Whitney Invitational Handicap.
PHOTO: Fast Falcon at Gulfstream Park courtesy of Trixie.

The Whitney Handicap is a super tough field and aside from Mucho Macho Man it was hard for me to handicap as I like so many of the talented horses. With Fort Larned returning back to his front-running style in the Stephen Foster, he will get a run for his money with Cross Traffic come Saturday. If Fort Larned goes with him, which is what I hope as they drew right next to each other, then Mucho Macho Man can sit with them and outlast to the wire. Or maybe he can take the lead and never give it up. In the past, Fort Larned has had a habit of throwing in a few clunkers and then blowing out a huge win. Well, last time out he blew out a huge win so clunker time maybe? We’ll see come Saturday. My long-shot intrigue is the Awesome Again son Fast Falcon who is trained by Nick Zito. I love Zito trained horses as they often seem to come from the clouds to make a big run and I would love to see him get a piece here. The scary horse in here is Successful Dan who beat Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man May 14, 2012 in the Alysheba Stakes.

For me though, I hope Mucho Macho Man gets the win this Saturday in the Whitney Handicap with the others falling somewhere behind. Mucho you got this one and I’m behind you 100%! Good luck to all of the horses and their connections Saturday and run home safe.

The 2013 Whitney Handicap is the 10th race of the day with a 5:45 pm EDT post time.

2013 Whitney Handicap Post Positions and Odds
1. Successful Dan 12/1 J.Leparoux/D.Lopresti
2. Mucho Macho Man 6/1 E.Prado/K.Ritvo
3. Fort Larned 7/5 B.Hernandez/I.Wilkes
4. Cross Traffic 5/2 J.Velazquez/T.Pletcher
5. Ron The Greek 6/1 J.Lezcano/B.Mott
6. Alpha 10/1 J.Rosario/K.McGlaughlin
7. Csaba 20/1 L.Saez/P.Gleaves
8. Fast Falcon 15/1 J.Alvarado/N.Zito
Updated Results: 4, 1, 2, 5, 3, 6, 7, 8

Whitney Invitational Handicap History: The Whitney Handicap is also called the Whitney Stakes or the Whitney Invitational. This race is for 3 year-olds and up and is run on dirt at 1 1/8 miles with a purse of $750,000 and has been a “Win and You’re In” for the fall running of the Breeders’ Cup Classic since 2007. The Whitney is named after the Whitney family whose members have been huge supporters of the horse racing industry for many years. The inception was in 1928 and was run at 1 1/4 until 1940 and closed to geldings. One of the biggest upsets came in 1973 when Secretariat came in second to Onion. Six fillies have won the Whitney Handicap overall. The Whitney Handicap has turned out to be one of the most prestigious races for older males with many going on to win Breeders’ Cup races and Eclipse awards.

Beginner’s Tip: Bet on a horse that has better than expected odds. Let’s say you like three horses in a race and the odds are 2/1, 3/1 and 8/1. It’s best to put your money on the 8/1 as your payout would be the best if he wins.