Ignored by much of the wagering public and sent from the gate at odds of 41-1, Needles Stakes winner Mucho Mas Macho, a three-time winner over the Calder turf course in 2012 and runner-up in the Grade 2 W. L. McKnight Handicap, proved all doubters wrong on Saturday when taking the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Henry Collazo, Mucho Mas Macho was given a perfect and patient ride by jockey Juan Leyva, who allowed the gelding to settle comfortably in ninth-place for much of the race before unleashing a furious run down the center of the turf course to get up in the final yards and prevail by a neck.
The win marked the first graded-stakes victory for Mucho Mas Macho, who twice took down allowance races on the Calder turf this past summer before tallying his first stakes win in the Needles as part of the Festival of the Sun Preview Day on September 15.
The son of Macho Uno followed that triumph with a fifth-place performance in the Tropical Park Derby, which was moved from turf to dirt, before reestablishing his form when getting back on the grass for the McKnight, in which he was beaten less than two lengths for everything.
Another Calder-based horse figures to play a prominent role in the Sunday feature at Gulfstream as Grade 3 Fred Hooper Handicap, $75,000 Tropical Park Derby, and $55,000 El Kaiser Stakes winner Csaba is listed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope.
Trained by Phil Gleaves, and to be ridden by Calder leading rider Luis Saez, Csaba was a commanding winner of the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream in his last start.
Also slated for a start in the Hal’s Hope is 2012 Calder Derby winner Good Morning Diva. The David Braddy-conditioned colt broke his maiden at Gulfstream last February before returning to finish fifth behind Trinniberg in the Grade 3 Swale.