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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• MUCHO MACHO MAN RETURNS FOR SANTA ANITA HANDICAP
• ROSARIO HOPES FOR BETTER LUCK IN SAN VICENTE
MUCHO MACHO MAN TO RUN IN SANTA ANITA HANDICAP MARCH 8
Mucho Macho Man returns to the scene of his greatest triumph when he comes to Santa Anita for the Santa Anita Handicap on March 8.
Following Mucho Macho Man’s five furlong workout in a sizzling 58.14 at Gulfstream Park Saturday morning, trainer Kathy Ritvo and Finn Green, Racing Manager for owners Dean and Patti Reeves, announced that the popular 6-year-old son of Macho Uno will run in the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap at a mile and a quarter on March 8.
“I got an early morning text today,” said Santa Anita Vice President Racing/Racing Secretary Rick Hammerle. “Many times when the phone goes off in the morning, it’s not good news. But this was great news. Kathy Ritvo called and told us that her and her team had decided to come back to Santa Anita.
“We’re thrilled that Mucho Macho Man is coming back to his second home here in California. They love it here and we love to have them. A good race just got better. We’re hoping to put together a star-studded field, maybe even a repeat of the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
In that race at Santa Anita last Nov. 2, Mucho Macho Man, ridden by Gary Stevens, held off the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Will Take Charge by a desperate nose. Prior to that race, Mucho Macho Man won the Grade I Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.
Affirming his affinity for the track, he was second in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita to Fort Larned.
In his first start this year, Mucho Macho Man rolled to a 14-length victory in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream on Jan. 18. The bay Florida-bred was also being considered for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 29 before today’s announcement that he would run in the Santa Anita Handicap.
“There were some great opportunities for him, but the horse is telling us he’s getting ready now,” Ritvo said. “We thought long and hard about where to go, and we have to do what we feel is best for the horse. I think he’d run well wherever he went. We know about going to Santa Anita now, so it’s nice to go back.”
Mucho Macho Man is scheduled to work again at Gulfstream next Saturday and ship to California on Sunday, Feb. 23.
ROSARIO RETURNS TO RIDE KOBE’S BACK IN SAN VICENTE
Trainer John Sadler is happy to have Joel Rosario back aboard Kobe’s Back in Sunday’s Grade II San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.
Fourth nationally in purse earnings with nearly $1.5 million, the former Southern California-based riding star lost all chance at victory when he rode the gray son of Flatter in the Grade I CashCall Futurity, in which Kobe’s Back clipped heels near the half-mile marker. “Joel wanted to ride him back because he clipped heels and almost went down,” Sadler said. “We gave the horse a little time to get over that nightmare race, and he’s trained well here so we’re ready to go.”
The San Vicente, which goes as the fifth race: Grazen’s Hope, Martin Garcia, 6-1; Rprettyboyfloyd, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Papa Turf, Joe Talamo, 4-1; Roger Rocket, Corey Nakatani, 9-2; Cherubim, Mike Smith, 5-2; and Kobe’s Back, Joel Rosario, 2-1.
FINISH LINES: With Corey Nakatani out of town next Saturday, trainer Barry Abrams has engaged Gary Stevens to ride Lakerville in the $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf . . . Agent Tony Matos reports that Corey Nakatani will ride Withers Stakes runner-up Uncle Sigh for trainer Gary Contessa in the Grade III, $500,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 1 . . . Not only is Rafael Bejarano the runaway leader in Santa Anita’s jockey standings over second-place runners-up Mike Smith and Joe Talamo, 47-25, he leads the nation in purse earnings through Feb. 14 with $2,128,474. Among Smith’s stakes mounts at the Fair Grounds next Saturday is Intense Heat for Todd Pletcher in the Risen Star . . . Tickets at $50 are available for the Roast & Toast feting veteran agents George O’Bryan, Ivan Puhich and Vince DeGregory at Sirona’s at Santa Anita following the last race on Sunday, Feb. 23. Interested parties can contact Tom Knust (626 390-4900), Mariko Feser (626 536-8661) or Mikki Tsuge (626 840-2032) . . . Presidents’ Day at Santa Anita on Monday is Dollar Day. Hot dogs, beer and sodas will be available at a buck each throughout the afternoon. First post time is 12:30 p.m.