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Sunday Notes: Mucho Macho Man Breezes Half at GP Saturday

Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Racing’s Mucho Macho Man, hero of Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Louisiana Derby Preview Day, breezed a half-mile in 48.50 at Gulfstream Park on Saturday while readying for his upcoming engagement in the $1 million Louisiana Derby March 26 at the Crescent City oval.

“It was a just a light work for him,” said Dean Reeves, one of the principal owners, when speaking over the phone from South Florida later Saturday morning. “This horse is doing just fabulous right now and we’re all looking forward to coming back to New Orleans. Everyone treated us really well last month and it was a wonderful experience for us. We’ll all be rolling in the Wednesday before the Louisiana Derby and be back at the barn with the horse.

“The Louisiana Derby is a great venue,” Reeves said, “and one of the reasons we wanted to bring the horse back to Fair Grounds is that when horses all turn for home over that track it’s still a long way to the finish line. I think from a mental standpoint of the horse it’s a good thing to get him used to that because of the long stretch run at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby.”

Mucho Macho Man, of course, remains one of the top “feel good” pre-Triple Crown stories this winter because of his charming trainer, Kathy Ritvo, who underwent successful heart transplant surgery in November of 2008 and has been blessed so far with excellent health during her recovery.

However, a storm cloud shadow fell on the Mucho Macho Man team less than 24 hours prior to the Risen Star when regular rider Eibar Coa suffered paralyzing injuries in a spill at Gulfstream, leaving the son of Macho Uno to go on to win the Louisiana Derby prep with jockey Rajiv Maragh deputizing for his fallen peer.

But last Friday Reeves visited Coa in the hospital where the rider has already undergone two additional surgeries and presented with him a check for $18,000 – the equivalent of the winning rider’s share of the Risen Star purse of $300,000.

“You know, right after that race, I talked about that idea with my wife Patti and we both agreed it was the right thing to do,” said Reeves. “Eibar has been an important part of our team since the beginning. I remember after he got off the horse the first time he ever worked him he said, ‘This is going to be the horse that takes me to the Kentucky Derby.’ I know what the horse means to Eibar. Now he’s going to be our biggest cheerleader, and now he’s rooting for Rajiv and Rajiv is rooting for him. 

“I was amazed how much better Eibar looked after only a week,” said Reeves of their Friday meeting. “I didn’t really know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. His color was good, his spirit was good and he seemed deeply appreciative of our visit. We brought him a copy of The Blood-Horse with Mucho Macho Man on the cover and he seemed to enjoy that, too. 

“Most of all, I could watch him move his left arm a little and I could see decent movement out of his left leg,” said Reeves. “His right leg was a little weaker, but I could see the muscles around his knee twitching when he tried to move it and I think that’s a very good sign. I always try to think positive thoughts and with that in mind I’m going to say that I think he’s going to walk again. I don’t know how long that may take, but I think it’s going to happen.

“It turned about to be a very emotional visit,” Reeves concluded of the Friday meeting. “Eibar had tears in his eyes and I know I had tears in mine. I tend to be a very emotional person, anyway. I usually end up crying at weddings and sometimes that’s for people I don’t even know.”

FAIR GROUNDS’ RAINED OUT RACING PROGRAM RESCHEDULED – Saturday’s racing program at Fair Grounds, rained out by a deluge that hit just after the first two races were completed, has been partially resurrected for Friday and Saturday of this week.

Entries will be taken once again Monday for this Saturday’s fourth running of the $60,000 Grindstone Stakes, restricted to 3-year-olds at about 7 1/2-furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course. Last Saturday’s original date for the Grindstone had already been taken off the grass and sustained three scratches, including the favored Willcox Inn, owned by All In Stable, before the entire race day was abandoned.

Also rescheduled this Saturday, with entries to be taken once again Monday, is last Saturday’s $55,000 allowance optional claiming feature for older horses at 1 1/16-miles that had attracted 2009 Louisiana Derby hero Friesan Fire, owned by Vinery Stable and Fox Hill Farm

Entries were taken Sunday for this coming Friday to bring back last Saturday’s sixth, seventh and 12th races.