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Saturday Notes: Mucho Macho Man Breezes, 13 Expected for La. Derby

Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Racing Stable’s Mucho Macho Man, the hero of Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes Feb. 19 and the prohibitive favorite for the $1 million Louisiana Derby now one week away, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 Saturday morning at Gulfstream Park under the watchful eye of trainer Kathy Ritvo.

“He went very well,” said Ritvo, speaking over the phone from South Florida shortly after the move, “and he galloped out great. It was more of a maintenance move than anything. He’s ready to run.”

Asked about shipping plans next week, Ritvo said, “We should arrive at Fair Grounds shortly after noon on Wednesday. I’m glad things are going so well for me and I’m glad the horse is doing so well.”

Last week, Ritvo received a package from the disco group The Village People, known for their hit song “Macho Man,” and in the package was a t-shirt with the inscription “Macho Woman.”

“That was pretty cute,” Ritvo said when asked about the package. “They sent one to me and one to Patti Reeves (of Reeves Thoroughbred Racing). “I guess they asked her if she could get the group tickets to the Kentucky Derby.”

Ritvo, a 41-year-old mother of two, underwent heart transplant surgery in November of 2008.

The Louisiana Derby field will be drawn Sunday at 11:30 a.m. in the paddock. Thirteen 3-year-olds are expected to enter the 1 1/8 mile contest: Risen Star Stakes winner Mucho Macho Man (trainer Kathy Ritvo, jockey Rajiv Maragh); Lecomte Stakes winner Wilkinson (Neil Howard, Garret Gomez); Risen Star fourth and Fair Grounds allowance winner Machen (Howard, Edgar Prado); Southwest Stakes third Elite Alex (Tim Ritchey, Calvin Borel); Lecomte Stakes second Pants On Fire (Kelly Breen, Rosie Napravnik); Fair Grounds allowance winner Left (Al Stall Jr., Jesse Campbell); Gulfstream Park maiden winner Nacho Business (Kelly Breen, Joe Bravo); Fair Grounds maiden winner Majestic Harbor (Paul McGee, Corey Lanerie); Oaklawn Park maiden winner Duca (Wayne Lukas); Oaklawn maiden winner Truman’s Commander (Allen Milligan); Oaklawn maiden winner Nehro (Asmussen); Fair Grounds maiden winner and Grindstone Stakes third Mavericking (Neil Pessin, Shaun Bridgmohan); and Southern California-based maiden Le Mans (Steve Asmussen, Robby Albarado). 

CALVIN BOREL TO RIDE ELITE ALEX IN $1 MILLION LOUISIANA DERBY – Jockey Calvin Borel, 44, a native of Catahoula, Louisiana, has won three of the last four Kentucky Derbys but has never won a Louisiana Derby.

That is now subject to change on March 26 when Borel is named to ride Elite Alex LLC’s Elite Alex in the 2011 $1 million Louisiana Derby in what will be the richest Thoroughbred race ever run in New Orleans.

Elite Alex finished third in Oaklawn’s Grade III Southwest Stakes in his last start Feb. 21, and was named to contest Saturday’s Grade II Rebel Stakes at that central Arkansas oval, but was a late scratch out of the Rebel in favor of a start in next Saturday’s Grade II Louisiana Derby.

“This all happened either late last night or early this morning,” said Borel’s agent Jerry Hissam on Saturday, “so it may be too late to line up any other mounts because any horse that’s still open may not be worth riding.

“However, Calvin will be coming to New Orleans next week to ride at least one very good horse,” Hissam said. “In fact, he’s going to work Elite Alex here at Oaklawn tomorrow (Sunday) morning at 9 o’clock, and he’s looking forward to returning to Louisiana.”

Elite Alex, trained by Tim Ritchey, is a son of Afleet Alex – also trained by Ritchey. Afleet Alex finished third in the 2005 Kentucky Derby but went on to win the Preakness and Belmont Stakes later that spring.

Borel’s first Kentucky Derby win came aboard Jim Tafel’s Street Sense in 2007. He returned to the winner’s circle after the Run for the Roses in 2009 aboard Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s Mine That Bird and then switched mounts to ride eventual Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra to victory in that spring’s Preakness two weeks after the Kentucky Derby.

The popular Cajun reinsman then returned to pose in the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle a third time last May aboard WinStar Farm’s Super Saver.

LEFT GETS LOUISIANA DERBY BREEZE SATURDAY AT FAIR GROUNDS – Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Left, who has done everything “right,” according to his tongue-in-cheek trainer Al Stall Jr., since the colt arrived in New Orleans this winter, is slated to shoot for his third straight win and remain undefeated by capturing the $1 million Louisiana Derby  March 26.

The son of Arch out of a Pulpit mare breezed a half-mile in 47.80 Saturday morning at Fair Grounds in preparation for the showcase race of the New Orleans Thoroughbred racing season one week later.

Left has worked five times this winter alongside Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s highly regarded Bind, who is assuredly the most visibly impressive winner seen here at Fair Grounds this season. 

“Left stayed close every time they worked together,” Stall said.

JOCKEY FOOTRACE SUNDAY – A field of 12 jockeys has been entered for Sunday’s Chick Capella Don MacBeth Memorial Fund Jockey Race, a 50-yard footrace on the main track slated to go off between Race 3 and Race 4. Each participating jockey is sponsored by a friend of racing in order to raise money for the MacBeth Memorial Fund.

The field, from the rail out (with sponsor): Richard Eramia (Jeannette Mocklin), Denny Velazquez (David Mutter), David Lee Bourque (Evelyn Benoit), Trey Agilar (Benoit), Michael Callaham (Sandra Salmen), Marlon St. Julien (Chris Candies), Shaun Bridgmohan (Darren Fleming), Jose Camejo (Javier Torres), Dustin Dugas (Dot Sibille), Corey Lanerie (Chantel Lanerie), James Graham (The Sissons) and Chester Bonnet (Brian Hernandez Jr.).