Racehorses bred in the Sunshine State of Florida lit up the winner's circles around the country last weekend, and one of the brightest stars was the Suburban Handicap winner Mucho Macho Man, who won the historic race by two and a half lengths from Hymn Book.
The victory was the sixth in 16 starts for the bay son of champion juvenile Macho Uno, who is now a consistently prominent sire and stands at Adena Springs Farm in Kentucky. At the end of June, Macho Uno's Potesta won the Hollywood Oaks from Eden's Moon, and the stallion is the sire of 17 stakes winners to date.
The only U.S. champion sired by Horse of the Year Holy Bull, Macho Uno won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile during his championship season and is a half-brother to Breeders' Cup Classic winner Awesome Again. Both raced for Adena Springs and stand at the operation's Kentucky farm.
With the formal announcement last weekend that Holy Bull would be pensioned from breeding, Macho Uno and Mucho Macho Man are doing their part to continue the great gray's legacy to the sport.
The towering Mucho Macho Man stands 17 hands and was bred in Ocala at the Rose Grove Farm of John and Carole Rio. The Rios still retain an interest in the colt who races in the names of Dream Team Racing Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing.
Mucho Macho Man was foaled June 15 and has been regarded for much of his life and racing career as a horse with a great frame that also needs more flesh. While muscle is a great asset for a speed horse, it is not equally important for a racer over middle distances, which proved to be the best option for Mucho Macho Man last year when he won the Risen Star Stakes and ran third in the Kentucky Derby.
Some horses like Mucho Macho Man, who are very well constructed, actually race more effectively with less muscle weight. It is less of a burden for them to carry, and some actually go faster. And now as Mucho Macho Man matures, he appears to be strengthening in ways that should make him highly competitive against his contemporaries for honors as the leading older horse.
This season, Mucho Macho Man has won three of his four starts, including the Gulfstream Park Handicap and the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic, and, overall, he has earned more than $1.3 million to date.
This challenger for divisional honors is not precisely the product of a giant breeding operation like Adena Springs, which was responsible for the colt's conception, but was bred by a tiny operation in Florida that typically has two or three mares.
The Rios bred Mucho Macho Man after acquiring his dam, the stakes-winning Ponche mare Ponche de Leona, for $33,000 at the 2007 Keeneland November sale from the consignment of Hidden Brook, agent. The 8-year-old mare was carrying only her second foal, but she was parked out on a June 28 cover. That would have knocked a lot of potential buyers off her because commercial breeders have difficulty selling later foals, even though some, like Mucho Macho Man, turn out to be high-class racehorses.
Not surprisingly, after producing Mucho Macho Man in mid-June of 2008, Ponche de Leona did not have a foal for 2009, but she did get back in foal on a good cover.
Then, later in 2009, when Mucho Macho Man was a yearling, the Rios sold Ponche de Leona at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's October mixed sale. In foal to the promising young Coronado's Quest stallion Gottcha Gold, she brought just $5,000 from Fanlew Farms, agent.
Although the Rios were not able to get Mucho Macho Man sold in a private partnership transaction, when they realized how nicely the colt was coming along, they bought the mare back privately in foal to Chestertown Slew. Ponche de Leona produced a foal by that stallion in the spring of 2011 and was bred back to Macho Uno. Then she was consigned to the Keeneland November sale with an active graded stakes winner as her second foal.
That update made all the difference in the world to buyers.
Steven Marshall's Black Rock Stables purchased Ponche de Leona for $300,000 at the 2011 Keeneland November sale in foal to Macho Uno, with Nick Sallusto and Hanzly Albina as agents. The mare produced a full brother to the Suburban winner on March 11, and the mare was bred back to leading international sire Tapit.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is a private consultant to breeders on pedigrees, matings, and conformation. He is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
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