Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
It’s not all that hard to back the favorite in a horse race. There’s usually something that sticks out and attracts even the most inexperienced of handicappers.
There are also times when a favorite has more going for it than the information contained in past performances, and there are some peripheral but highly logical reasons to back him.
Finding a reason to like Mucho Macho Man in last Saturday’s Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita wasn’t much of a challenge. He came into the race with earnings of more than $2 million. The 5-year-old horse had four stakes wins to his credit and was third in the 2011 Kentucky Derby.
But Mucho Macho Man had more going for him than simply a class edge. The intentions of his connections spoke volumes about Mucho Macho Man’s chances in the Awesome Again.
An Eastern-based runner, Mucho Macho Man should made his final pre-Breeders’ Cup appearance in a race like the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.
So why was he in California? After Mucho Macho Man was scratched from the Woodward on Aug. 31 due to a wet track, trainer Kathy Ritvo decided to ship her horse west to avoid inclement weather, among other reasons.
By doing so, she was also reuniting Mucho Macho Man with the racetrack where he finished second to Fort Larned in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.
As much as 2013 has been a somewhat disappointing year for The Macho Man – he was winless in three starts and had not been better than third – if Ritvo had misgivings about her horse’s chances in the Breeders’ Cup she would have kept him close to home and avoided all the added expense of shipping to and training in California. By heading west and giving Mucho Macho Man a tune-up for a $5 million race over a racetrack he liked, it was a highly positive sign.
The fact that the Awesome Again was a Grade 1 stakes and could provide the 5-year-old horse with his first Grade 1 victory painted an even more vivid picture of the reasons why Mucho Macho Man was poised for a top effort.
All of the positive signs that indicated Mucho Macho Man would turn in a big effort was proven correct when he took the Awesome Again by a convincing 4 ¼ lengths and returned $5.20 as the 8-5 favorite.
Logic paid off.
THE LESSON: Understanding the logic in the decisions made by horsemen can make even an obvious favorite even more plausible.
MUCHO MACHO MAN'S PAST PERFORMANCES