Trainer Henry Collazo will look to duplicate the graded stakes success enjoyed by Signal Hill Farms’ Mucho Mas Macho, the 41-1 upset winner of the Grade 2 Ft. Lauderdale Stakes in January, when starting in Saturday’s Grade 3 Miami Mile Handicap at Calder Casino & Race Course.
“To watch him finish like that was unbelievable,” Collazo said of the gelding’s ninth-to-first run in the final sixteenth-of-a-mile in the Ft. Lauderdale. “That was probably the biggest win of my career.”
Mucho Mas Macho, a son of Macho Uno, breezed a half-mile over the Calder main track in :48.2 on April 15, a preparatory move that has his trainer feeling confident one day ahead of the race.
“I think he’s coming up to this in great shape,” Collazo said. “In the past, I’ve said that he would do better the longer he goes, which is probably still true, but he’s won a couple of times going a mile over this course before, so the distance of the race doesn’t worry me.
“I think it’s more about the company he keeps. I’ve handicapped this race over and over, and he fits well with this group.”
Sandwiched between his win in the Ft. Lauderdale and the high expectations for the Miami Mile was a fifth-place performance in the Grade 2 Pan American Handicap, an effort that was clearly a disappointment to Collazo, although not without reason.
“He trained good and breezed well leading up to it, and I thought he would run big,” Collazo said. “But the one thing I was hoping for was a little rain to soften up that course. That didn’t happen, and the turf that day was so hard. I believe that really compromised his chances. The winner set a world record. That alone should tell you how hard the turf was.”
With rains dampening the Calder turf course last weekend, Collazo doesn’t see surface condition as a possible pitfall on Saturday.
“I think it will be more like grass and not asphalt,” the trainer joked.
One potential cause for concern is the outer post 11 that Mucho Mas Macho has drawn for the Miami Mile, although Collazo dismisses that notion and is unwilling to engage in any pre-race excuse prognostication.
“The outside post doesn’t bother me at all,” Collazo stated emphatically. “Starting out there I know my horse won’t get buried or intimidated early.
“If you go back to the Pan American again, other than the hard surface, I think you can see that he was a little anxious and was never in a good place during the race. And that was starting from post four. So post, to me, that doesn’t matter. He’s going to run his race.”
Mucho Mas Macho is a three-time winner in six starts over the Calder turf, including a win in last year’s $75,000 Needles Stakes as part of the Festival of the Sun Preview Day.