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Jan 17, 2014

Up the Backstretch: Mucho Macho Man swings for triple

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

 Philadelphia, PA ( - Saturday could well be a triple dose of good news for the connections of Mucho Macho Man. The Breeders' Cup Classic winner is a finalist in two Eclipse Award categories and is entered in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park earlier in the day.

"It's going to be fun," said Kathy Ritvo, who trains Mucho Macho Man for owners Dean and Patti Reeves. "I know I appreciate good horses myself, so it's nice for the people to get a chance to see him. He's just so happy where he is right now.

"I'm honored for him to be nominated. I hope they recognized the biggest race of the year. He had a great year. They can't take that away from him. One way or another, we'll be happy. And the other horses had great years, too, so congratulations to them, also. It is what it is. We know how good he is. We could have a really good day."

For the Eclipse Awards, Mucho Macho Man is competing against reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan in both the HOY and Older Male categories. Also going for HOY is Will Take Charge, second in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Game On Dude is the other finalist for Older Male.

In reality, Mucho Macho Man would not have been considered in either category if not for his nose victory in the Classic. He only had one other win last year, coming just weeks before claiming the $5 million race at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

"We really started in June of last year, so we're kind of in mid-campaign right now. We're in a good place. The horse is in great shape. He's ready," said Finn Green, racing manager for Reeves Thoroughbred Racing.

Green was referring to the horse's inability to handle a sloppy track in last year's Sunshine Millions race and his time off until last June when he posted consecutive thirds in a minor stakes at Belmont Park and Whitney at Saratoga.

Nearly two months after the Whitney, Mucho Macho Man finally found the winner's circle in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita, five weeks ahead of the Breeders' Cup.

No, Mucho Macho Man will not receive an Eclipse Award this week, but certainly is the horse to beat in the Sunshine Millions Classic.

"I think it's a great race for him to start out in. It's a perfect place for him to start," Green said.

Just a few hours after the Gulfstream card is completed, the Eclipse Awards will be handed out. Wise Dan is certain to repeat as Horse of the Year and Older Male Thoroughbred.

As for champion Male Turf Horse, Wise Dan may well get edged out by Breeders' Cup Turf winner Magician. Point of Entry had only three starts in 2013 and his fourth-place finish behind Magician in the Turf will exclude him from the honor.

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