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Sunday Notes: Mucho Macho Man in Fine Fettle

Trainer Kathy Ritvo was ebullient during training hours Sunday morning at Fair Grounds, and with good reason. That’s because late Saturday afternoon her sophomore colt Mucho Macho Man, owned by a multiple partnership of Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Racing, had established himself as a legitimate candidate for the Kentucky Derby 11 weeks from now by winning the Grade II Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Between now and then, of course, comes the Louisiana Derby in five weeks, which will become the richest Thoroughbred race ever run in the Pelican State when it carries a $1 million purse for the first time in its 98-year history March 26. Will Mucho Macho Man be one of the horses going to the post that day?

“We’re not sure, yet,” said Ritvo Sunday morning. “We’ll talk things over for a few days before we decide for sure, but it’s certainly a possibility. Everyone here at Fair Grounds has treated us very well since we got here, and we all really appreciate that.

“The horse is doing really well this morning, and I slept really well last night. Watching the race on the TV down in the winner’s circle yesterday, I was just so excited I started rooting very hard the last part of the race, but at least I was quiet for awhile.”

Dean Reeves, one of the principle owners standing next to Ritvo outside the barn Sunday morning, was looking for a good local place near the track to go and have a nice brunch, and if he followed the recommendation he and his group were given, chances are good that the group will want to come back in five weeks to go there again.

DECISIVE MOMENT INJURED SLIGHTLY – Just for Fun Stable’s Decisive Moment, who set the pace in Saturday’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes before weakening to fifth at the wire, came out of the race with a slight soft tissue injury to the left hind, trainer Juan Arias said Sunday morning as he hosed down the sensitive area.

“It’s nothing very serious, we should be able to get it cleared up fairly quickly,” Arias said. “We’ll be taking him back to Florida in a couple of days.”

Later Sunday morning, Decisive Moment’s jockey Kerwin Clark described how the race was run. “He’s a better horse than the way he ran yesterday,” Clark said. “Things were going along fine but when the others started coming to him, he bobbled a little bit and after that things didn’t go quite as well for us. But he didn’t quit on me. He still only got beat five or six lengths.”

PAUL MCGEE WINS MINESHAFT, RUNS THIRD IN FAIR GROUNDS ’CAP – Trainer Paul McGee saddled Amerman Racing Stable’s Demarcation to win Saturday’s Grade III Mineshaft Handicap by a head, and in the next race saddled David Holloway Racing’s Dubious Miss to run third in the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap, beaten a head and a nose for all of it.

“Demarcation is so consistent,” McGee said. “He runs well every time so he makes me look good every time he runs. 

“Dubious Miss ran well once again but got beat again,” McGee said. “So he’s run three times over this turf course and run well every time, but he’s still ‘o-fer’ over it.”

Saturday’s Mineshaft Handicap is designed to lead up to the Grade II New Orleans Handicap March 26, and Saturday’s Fair Grounds Handicap is in preparation for the Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap on that same gala Louisiana Derby Day afternoon, so McGee was asked if Demarcation and Dubious Miss were likely to return for those two respective future engagements.

“Probably,” said McGee. “Right now I’m going to say ‘yes’ for both of them in those two races.”

BIND LOOKING LIKE ANOTHER AL STALL JR. STAR – Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Bind proved no disappointment to the many who backed him during the third race on Saturday’s expanded Louisiana Derby Preview Day program, winning the event by 9 1/2-lengths while registering the fastest six-furlong time of 1:08.80 recorded this season at Fair Grounds.

“I’m not sure whether his next race will be here or in Kentucky,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said Sunday morning, “and as for (Adele Dilschneider’s) Apart (third in Saturday’s Mineshaft Handicap) we have no excuses. He just got outrun yesterday.”