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Catch all the action of Saratoga's 144th season of racing, here on YNN. The Spa Spot is the place for all things Saratoga - on and off the track!

Mucho Macho Man ready for Woodward

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Quietly and carefully, Mucho Macho Man is being prepared for Saturday’s Grade 1 Woodward. Unless you were looking, you probably wouldn’t notice him, though he is a big dude.

After he impressed with a decisive win in the Suburban Handicap on July 7, trainer Kathy Ritvo and Finn Green, racing manager for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, stuck with their plan, skipped the Whitney and stayed focused on the Woodward. Mucho Macho Man has had three timed works, just as did before the Suburban, for the Woodward. The last came early Sunday morning when he cruised five furlongs on the main track in an leisurely 1:02.84.

“The work was very good,” Ritvo said. “He was in the middle of the racetrack. We worked him five-eighths. just a nice easy work. It was a little hard on the rail for him. Maybe not for other horses, but for him. He went really well. He came back really good, bucking and jumping and playing coming off the track. It was good for him.”

Mucho Macho Man has won won six of 16 career races and has finished in the top three 13 times while earning $1.3 million in purse money. His original owners were the Dream Team One Racing Stable and he was trained by William White for his debut at Calder in July 2010. Following that race Reeves purchased a controlling interest in the colt and he was moved to a new trainer, Tim Ritvo, Kathy’s husband. Mucho Macho Man was third in an August race at Saratoga and broke his maiden at Monmouth in September.

By November, when he ran second in a a pair of Grade 2’s, the Nashua and the Remsen, Tim Ritvo had become an executive at Gulfstream Park and the Kathy Ritvo, herself a seasoned trainer, was in charge of the Macho Uno colt. She was back at work on a full-time basis after receiving a heart transplant in November 2008.

The colt went on win the Risen Star stakes and finish third in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. He was third in the Kentucky Derby, sixth in the Preakness and seventh in the Bemont Stakes. Mucho Macho Man didn’t race again until November at Aqueduct and by that time a program for the 2012 racing season was in place.

“The racing manager, Finn Green, and I sat down last year in November and we made him a racing schedule for this year,” Ritvo said. “It’s been executed perfectly. The horse ran excellently in all of his races, came back great in all of them.

“He’s a big horse, so we like to give him some time to recover from his races. We try to keep to a schedule. His works, pretty much everything stays the same, going into his schedule.”

The program calls for between six and 10 weeks between races, plenty of long gallops and a few breezes leading into the races. The approach has yielded four wins in five starts and has him on his way toward the Breeders’ Cup.

“He loves to train. His training is mostly what he does,” Ritvo said. “His works are just to sharped him up a little. If he’s too sharp we can slow him down. He loves to train. He trains a few miles every day. That’s the deal with him. He’s just a happy horse. It makes it easy that he really likes his job.”

Reeves Thoroughbred Racing bought the remaining 30 percent share from Dream Team One earlier this summer and owns a 4-year-old that ranks third in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s weekly poll. A victory in the Woodward could put him at the top of the list and make him one of the favorites for the Breeders‘ Cup Classic.

Ritvo smiles and nods at the mention of the No.1 position in the NTRA poll.

“He doesn’t have to be there to make me happy,” she said. “What he has to do is give 100 percent when he runs. And he does.”

Mucho Macho Man has been based in Saratoga since the spring and Ritvo plans to keep him in upstate New York through the fall as she prepares for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. She isn’t saying if there will be a start between the Woodward and the Classic.

“He does like it here better. He loves to train here,” she said. “He trained here for the Suburban. He’s just moving forward. Everything is just getting bigger. He’s getting bigger and better. Strong. Smarter. What else can I ask for?”

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