Hallandale Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - One year after failing to complete the race, Breeders' Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man captured the 2014 running Saturday of the $400,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park.
Mucho Macho Man, a finalist for 2013 Horse of the Year, was ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens in the 1 1/8-mile stakes, the same pairing that won last year's Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita.
The 1-10 favorite broke well from the starting gate, but allowed Bernie the Maestro to set the pace around the first turn and up the backstretch.
Mucho Macho Man took the lead on the final turn and quickly increased his margin down the stretch. The 6-year-old cruised to a 14-length victory over Joshua's Comprise.
"It was good to have him back. We put him in because he was ready to run. It was fun," trainer Kathy Ritvo said. "It's nice to win at home. We have total confidence in Gary (Stevens), so the whole race was fun. I was very comfortable today."
Decaf Again finished third followed by Bernie the Maestro, Gourmet Dinner and Rule Number Six.
Mucho Macho Man covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.76 on a fast track.
"I actually felt more pressure today than I did in the Breeders' Cup Classic," Stevens explained. "On paper, they can't get beat, but they all can get beat. Kathy had him spot on for what we needed today. I suppose it was more like a workout than a race. He won very, very easy. He ran fast, and I geared him down at the end and tried not to overdo it."
Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Mucho Macho Man was pulled up in the stretch during last year's Sunshine Millions Classic after being unable to handle an off track. This year's win was worth $240,000 to bring the 6-year-old's career earnings to more than $5.58 million in 24 starts with nine victories.
Mucho Macho Man returned $2.20, $2.10 and $2.10. Joshua's Comprise paid $13.60 and $6.00, and Decaf Again paid $6.20 to show.