Mucho Macho Man Wins Grade II Risen Star Stakes

Mucho Macho Man, owned by the partnership of Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Racing, picked an excellent time to win the second race of his career from seven lifetime starts when he took on all comers to prove best in Saturday’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes – the designed prep for the $1 million Grade II Louisiana Derby to be run five weeks from now on March 26 at Fair Grounds.

Trained by Kathy Ritvo, who underwent successful heart replacement surgery less than three years ago, Mucho Macho Man was ridden Saturday by Rajiv Maragh, who replaced jockey Eibar Coa after that rider was severely injured in a spill at Gulfstream Friday.

Maragh chose to press the pace most of the way with Mucho Macho Man, challenged for command in the vicinity of the quarter pole, gained a clear lead at the eighth pole and then proved best by a length and a half.

“In the post parade he did everything right that you would ask from a horse,” said Maragh. “He was giving me all the right signals. I had been on him in the morning so I am a little bit familiar with the horse. It wasn’t hard to get acquainted with him.”

Mucho Macho Man accomplished the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Risen Star in 1:43.98 and increased his lifetime earnings to $290,643 with Saturday’s $180,000 winner’s share of the $300,000 purse.  He returned mutuels of $9.20, $4.80 and $2.80.

Tom Walters’ Santiva, always among the leaders, proved clearly second best when set down for the drive, finishing 1 1/4-lengths in front of the favored Rogue Romance, who finished third in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall at Churchill and is owned by Catesby Clay.

Santiva paid $6 and $3.40 and Rogue Romance returned $2.60. Courtlandt Farms’ Machen, strong second choice in the wagering, had no late rally and finished fourth, while pacesetting Decisive Moment, owned by Just for Fun Stable, recorded early splits of 24.67 and 49.24 but weakened to fifth at the wire.