Mucho Macho Man turned in his final serious work for Saturday's Belmont Stakes on Sunday under new jockey Ramon Dominguez, covering 5 furlongs in a brisk 59.57, the fastest of 15 at the distance at Belmont Park.
Third in the Kentucky Derby and then sixth in the Preakness after losing a shoe, Mucho Macho Man came onto the main track shortly after the renovation break at 8:45 a.m. On the backstretch, Dominguez allowed the colt to quicken his pace at the 5½ -furlong pole, turning in splits of 12.08, 23.93 and 35.22, and galloping out 6 furlongs in 1:13.18.
"He went very good today, I think Ramon fit him really well," trainer Kathy Ritvo said. "He was comfortable on him, he let him do it on his own, and he went great. Finished up well, galloped out good, good energy. I'm happy that he's doing really well."
Ritvo said she was looking forward to the opportunity to take on the Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and Preakness winner Shackleford again.
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"I think he's going to run well on this racetrack," Ritvo said. "And I think the distance is going to suit him well. He's the kind of horse who wants to keep going."
Stay Thirsty works, too
Stay Thirsty breezed 5 furlongs over the Belmont Park main track Sunday morning in 1:00.45 — third fastest of 15 works at the distance — in preparation for the Belmont Stakes.
"I thought he worked really well," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "It was a good solid five-eighths, a minute and two-fifths with a strong gallop out. We were happy with it."
Javier Castellano, the leading rider at the Belmont spring/summer meet before Sunday's races, was aboard the 3-year-old Bernardini colt for the workout and will ride him in next weekend's race.
Pletcher said Stay Thirsty, winner of the Grade III Gotham at Aqueduct on March 5 before running seventh in the Florida Derby and 12th in the Kentucky Derby, is doing well heading into the Belmont.
"He's as good as he can be coming into the race," he said. "We're hopeful that he can handle the mile-and-a-half distance. We won't know until we try it but his pedigree suggests he could handle it. We're under the radar a bit. There's no pressure so we can just come into it and have fun."
New plans for Get Stormy
In spite of a sharp 6-furlong turf work in 1:14.05 on Sunday morning, trainer Tom Bush said he was leaning against running Get Stormy in the Grade I Manhattan at 1¼ miles on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
The 5-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic was a front-running winner of the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on the Kentucky Derby undercard in his most recent start, which came on the heels of a victory in the Grade I Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland in April.
With a career record of 10-2-2 from 22 starts, Get Stormy has never competed beyond 11⁄8 miles and Bush said he didn't think the horse's pedigree would stand up in longer routes.
"He went really, really well today, I just don't think I should run him at a mile and quarter," Bush said. "I'm leaning against it. He's training brilliantly, I just don't know if I can take a chance. I have to think about it a little more."
■ Heading the contenders for the Manhattan is reigning Eclipse Champion turf male Gio Ponti. Trained by Christophe Clement, the 6-year-old Gio Ponti hasn't raced since finishing fifth — beaten less than two lengths — in the Dubai World Cup on March 26, his only start of the year. He finished second to stablemate Winchester in last year's Manhattan.
Big day for Dominguez
Ramon Dominguez joined Jorge Velasquez as one of two jockeys to win six races in a single day at Belmont Park, aided by a sweep of Sunday's New York Stallion Series races aboard Darrin's Dilemma and Hessonite.