HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Centennial Farms’ Mihos used a perfectly-timed assault at the leader to get up just in time and nail Trophy Chaser at the wire to win Saturday’s seventh running of the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking without incident from the far outside 6 post under Jose Ortiz at 5/2 odds, Mihos brushed sides with the 4/5 favorite Code of Honor early before relaxing with him near the rear. Meanwhile, Gladiator King, whose awkward start caused a chain reaction that resulted in said brushing, quickly recovered and rushed up to take command before posting fractions of :23.00 and :45.42. He soon tired, however, allowing Trophy Chaser to take command with a little over 2 furlongs remaining, and the new leader began inching away in the far turn before straightening for home. Behind him, Mihos exited the turn running five-wide and commenced a rally to the front. Grinding away with every step, the Jimmy Jerkens trainee collared Trophy Chaser in the shadow of the wire before advancing in the final jumps to win by a hard-fought neck in a final time of 1:37.56 for the 8-furlong event over the fast main track.
“We were a little wide the whole way,” Ortiz said. “We had the outside post. Code of Honor was on my inside and I tried to make a move. I tried to run with him. I thought he was the horse to beat. I thought it would take a lot of speed to catch Trophy Chaser. At the 3/8 pole, I was targeting Code of Honor because I thought he was the horse to beat. When we got to the 3/16 (pole), my horse switched leads a little late. Trophy Chaser got away from me a little bit, but when he changed leads and I hit left-handed, he gave me a great kick. He had a target in front of him and he kept coming. I felt like Trophy Chaser was backing up a little bit and getting tired.”
The begrudging runner-up was still well-clear of Garter and Tie in third, while Code of Honor came up empty after running four-wide and finished a disappointing fourth. Local specialist Well Defined also came up empty, defeating only the weakened Gladiator King to complete the order of finish.
Mihos’ win was his second straight following his maiden-breaking effort at Aqueduct on November 24. The 3-year-old son of Cairo Prince now carries a record of 3-2-0-1 with earnings of $108,880.
“He was resolute, that’s for sure,” Jerkens said. “That’s kind of typical of him. The first two races, he kept coming. Even when he looked like he didn’t have the best of it, he gives himself a little breather and then comes again.”
Mihos returned $7.80 to win, $4 to place, and $4.20 to show. Trophy Chaser brought back $5.20 to place and $3.60 to show, while Garter and Tie paid $4.80 to show.