Florida-bred fan favorite Mucho Macho Man will begin his 6-year-old season in the $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 18.
Winner of the 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) and an Eclipse Award finalist for both Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male, Mucho Macho Man is stabled with trainer Kathy Ritvo at Gulfstream.
He has had five works over the track since the Breeders' Cup Classic, including a half-mile breeze in 47.77 seconds on Jan. 4. He is expected to work again Saturday morning.
“We're going to go in the Sunshine Millions,” Ritvo, who trains the son of Macho Uno for owners Dean and Patti Reeves, said Friday. “He's doing great in his training. He's been working really well, and it's good timing. It keeps him here, and it gives us some options after we come out of here.”
Run at 1 1/8 miles, the Classic caps the six-race, $1.3 million Sunshine Millions program, which serves as a prelude to the 43rd annual Eclipse Awards to be held at Gulfstream later in the evening.
Mucho Macho Man used the Classic to open his campaign in each of the past two years, winning in 2012 and being pulled up in 2013 over a sloppy, sealed main track.
“I think it's the right spot, as long as it's dry,” Ritvo said. “He's doing great. He started off [last year] slow, but he won the biggest race of the year.”
Mucho Macho Man won both the Awesome Again (G1) and Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita to end his 4-year-old season. He has eight wins and more than $5.3 million in earnings from 23 lifetime starts.
In December, Mucho Macho Man was named winner of the fourth annual Secretariat Vox Populi, or “Voice of the People,” Award, recognizing the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resonated with the American public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing.
As part of the coast-to-coast Vox Populi ceremony, Ritvo will sign posters of Mucho Macho Man from 11 a.m. to noon in the breezeway.
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