Mucho Macho Man Tops Field of 13 for Saturday's $1 Million Louisiana Derby
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Racing Stable’s Mucho Macho Man, hero of Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes in his last start Feb. 19, has been installed as the 9-5 morning line favorite for Saturday’s Grade II Louisiana Derby, for 98 years the showcase race of the Crescent City season which with its latest increased purse to $1 million will become the richest Thoroughbred race ever run at the historic New Orleans oval.
On Saturday morning at Gulfstream Park, Mucho Macho Man completed a five-furlong maintenance breeze in 1:02.60, prompting trainer Kathy Ritvo to say later in the morning, “He went very well and he galloped out great. He is ready to run.”
Ritvo, it should be noted, is a human interest story even without Mucho Macho Man. The 41-year-old mother of two underwent heart transplant surgery in November of 2008 and is suddenly the trainer of one of the long-range favorites for the Kentucky Derby on May 7. Overbrook Farm’s Grindstone in 1996 was the last horse to sweep the Louisiana Derby as well as the Run for the Roses on the first Saturday in May.
Jamaican-born jockey Rajiv Maragh, who rode Mucho Macho Man to a length and a half-victory in the Risen Star, will return in the irons for the Louisiana Derby, a race he won last year aboard Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Mission Impazible.
Courtlandt Farms’ Machen, who finished fourth in the Risen Star as the designed tune-up for the Louisiana Derby in what was only his third lifetime start, has been pegged as the 7-2 second choice in Saturday’s local Derby. Trained by Neil Howard, who saddled Elkins, Farish and Humphrey’s Comic Strip to win the 1998 Louisiana Derby and William Farish’s Line In The Sand to win the 1992 renewal, Machen broke his maiden here at first asking Jan. 2 by 5 1/2-lengths and graduated out of first-level allowance company with a five-length tally Jan. 30.
Veteran reinsman Edgar Prado, who rode Lael Stable’s legendary Barbaro to victory in the 2006 Kentucky Derby, has been engaged to handle the reins aboard Machen.
Capable of providing strong competition for Mucho Macho Man and Machen in the 98th running of the Louisiana Derby are Elite Alex, owned by Elite Alex LLC, and Wilkinson, owned by Gallardia Racing LLC.
Elite Alex, 6-1 in the Louisiana Derby morning line, finished third in Oaklawn’s Grade III Southwest Stakes in his last start Feb. 21 following a troubled trip and was a late scratch by trainer Tim Ritchey out of Oaklawn’s Grade II Rebel Stakes Saturday in favor of New Orleans’ upcoming centerpiece.
Jockey Calvin Borel, a native of Catahoula, Louisiana, who has won three of the last four Kentucky Derbys but has never won a Louisiana Derby, gets a chance to fill that void as the rider for Elite Alex.
Wilkinson, the 8-1 fourth choice in the early Louisiana Derby line and a second Neil Howard trainee, won the Grade III Lecomte Stakes here Jan. 22 as the first leg of the three-race Louisiana Derby sophomore series but has fallen off the radar after not having started in the Risen Star.
Garrett Gomez, North America’s Eclipse Award-winning rider in 2009 who was aboard for Wilkinson’s Lecomte score, returns in the irons for the Louisiana Derby.
Completing the field for the Louisiana Derby, with respective jockeys and morning line odds, is: the
The 98th Louisiana Derby
Grade II -- Purse $1,000,000 -- 3-Year-Olds -- 1 1/8 miles
Saturday, March 26, 2011 -- Race 10 -- Approx. Post 4:55 p.m. CDT
Post. Horse (Owner, Trainer, Jockey), Morning Line Odds
1. Nacho Business (Goeorge & Lori Hall, Kelly Breen, Joe Bravo), 10-1*
2. Pants On Fire (George & Lori Hall, Kelly Breen, Rosie Napravnik), 10-1*
3. Nehro (Michael Baze, Zayat Stables LLC, Steve Asmussen), 30-1
4. Mavericking (Team Block, Neil Pessin, Shaun Bridgmohan), 20-1
5. Mucho Macho Man (Reeves Thoroughbred Racing & Dream Team 1 Racing, Kathy Ritvo, Rajiv Maragh), 9-5
6. Liondrive (Thomas Amenta & Tom Amenta II, Tim Ice, James Graham), 50-1
7. Machen (Courtlandt Farms, Neil Howard, Edgar Prado), 7-2
8. Majestic Harbor (Gallant Stable, Paul McGee, Corey Lanerie), 12-1
9. Le Mans (Padua Stables, Steve Asmussen, Robby Albarado), 20-1
10. Wilkinson (Gallardia Racing LLC, Neil Howard, Garrett Gomez), 8-1
11. Left (Adele B. Dilschneider & Claiborne Farm, Al Stall Jr., Jesse Campbell), 10-1
12. Elite Alex (Elite Alex LLC, Tim Ritchey, Calvin Borel), 6-1
13. Populist Politics (Klaravich Stables Inc., Tom Amoss, Richard Eramia), 30-1