HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Shadwell Stable’s Mutasaabeq motored home to win Saturday’s $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Mutasaabeq bobbled a bit as he broke from post 5 under Luis Saez as the even-money favorite and barely escaped a crowded tussle that affected nearly every horse to his outside.
Settling comfortably while stalking wide and in the clear, Mutasaabeq watched Awesome Gerry post opening fractions of :23.70 and :46.15 down the backstretch.
Saez began working hard on Mutasaabeq in the far turn and encouraged the Todd Pletcher trainee to advance, which he did so willingly.
Taking the lead near the 1/4 pole, Mutasaabeq straightened for home on the lead and had enough left to hold off a rallying Papetu to win the one-turn fast dirt mile by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:35.96.
“He tends to break a bit slow, so today, we tried to warm him up good,” Saez said. “When he broke, he broke sharp and we were right there. At the 3/8 (pole), I thought we were done, but I put him on the bridle again and he came back. He ran big. I never give up, I always ride till the end. When I pushed him, he gave me that kick. It was a good race.”
Papetu was 1 1/4 lengths clear of Awesome Gerry, while Pickin’ Time finished a better-than-it-looked fourth after suffering the worst of the crowding at the start.
Ultimate Badger, Big Thorn, Raison d’Air, Easy Time, and Kiger completed the order of finish.
Jirafales was scratched from the race restricted to 3-year-olds.
Mutasaabeq’s win was his second at the stakes level following the Bourbon (G2) on Keeneland’s turf in October and featured a return to form after finishing 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). The 3-year-old Into Mischief colt improved his record to 5-3-0-1 with $259,120 earned.
“We’ll look to try another one on dirt,” Pletcher said regarding the next start. “I’ll talk to the team at Shadwell and come up with a plan. I think today he showed his versatility. He’s now a stakes winner on both surfaces. It’s exciting to have one like that.”
Mutasaabeq returned $4.20 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.60 to show. Papetu brought back $14.40 to place and $8 to show, while Awesome Gerry paid $3.60 to show.