Mucho Macho Man earned the initial Grade 1 win of his career by cruising to a 4 ¼-length score in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 28.
Ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, Mucho Macho Man was runner-up in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Saturday’s win gave him an automatic berth in the race on Nov. 2, with his entry fees paid.
“This horse only has to make up a neck from last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, and I think he’s a bigger, stronger horse than he was last year,” Stevens said.
The 5-year-old Florida-bred ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.30 and paid $5.20, $3.20 and $2.80 as the 9-5 favorite in the field of 10. Mucho Macho Man snapped a five-race skid with his first Grade 1 victory, and first win since the Suburban Handicap on July 7, 2012.
“He’s got a big, beautiful stride,” said Stevens, who launched a comeback earlier this year at 50.
Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Mucho Macho Man, now an earner of more than $2.5 million, has been stabled at Santa Anita for nearly three weeks.
“He seems to thrive here,” trainer Kathy Ritvo said.
Mucho Macho Man was bred in the Sunshine State by John and Carole Rio. He is a son of Macho Uno out of the Ponche mare Ponche de Leona.
Paynter, one of three entries trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, closed ground late to finish second. ended a two-race skid. The 4-year-old colt overcame a life-threatening illness to race again in June.
“He was behind there,” Baffert said. “He took a lot of dirt; actually he settled pretty well and came wide. He was finishing up really well.”