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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

La. Derby: Can Mucho Macho Man Be Beaten?

3/24/2011

By Dick Downey
The Downey Profile


There's reason to believe Mucho Macho Man could be beaten in the Grade II Loiuisiana Derby, but there's also reason to think he'll run well.

After that "five probables in the Louisiana Derby" story hit the internet, this race gained 13 entries in a New York minute--the field is now 12 with the defection of Populist Politics--after everyone had the same idea at the same time. My idea is to focus on the ones that had firm plans in the first place.

Mucho Macho Man's connections committed to the million-dollar race early, and having won the Grade II Risen Star, he's a deserving 9-5 morning line favorite. But Mucho Macho Man has more than enough graded earnings to make the big dance, so the question is whether he'll necessarily be 100% tuned up on Saturday. What would you do if he were your horse? After all, this purse is worth a lot.

Wilkinson and Machen both need graded earnings, and this looks like the last shot they'll have to make the Kentucky Derby. It's hard to see Neil Howard running either of them three times in six weeks, but if either of these colts were to wind up in the Kentucky Derby, that's what he'd have to do if the money fails to materialize on Saturday.

There's good reason to like both horses, but I'll put my money on Wilkinson. His morning line is more than double that of Machen's. The added distance should suit Wilkinson's pedigree. He's a stakes winner and showed a lot of grit doing it. The fact that he barely beat Pants On Fire in the Grade III Lecomte is not a huge endorsement, given what Pants On Fire did--actually didn't do--in the Risen Star. But maybe Pants On Fire came back too soon, while Wilkinson skipped that race. His steady stream of workouts since the Lecomte look good. I hope his propensity to create problems for himself is a dormant issue at this point.

Machen has a load of talent. He doesn't need a better trip than he got in the Risen Star, and Edgar Prado's presence on him Saturday isn't a reflection on Jamie Theriot's ride in the Risen Star. Everyone thought Theriot would be in Dubai. What Machen needs is to move forward, and Machen's works coming into Saturday look very good. At this point, it's a question of whether, as The Commish might say, he's a "now" horse or a "then" horse.

Elite Alex missed a breeze two back, unless clockers are the one who missed it, and so we have to decide whether to make much of it. Was there a hidden agenda in the decision to withdraw from the Grade II Rebel last Saturday? Calvin Borel is following Elite Alex to New Orleans, so I'll assume all is well for him. His outside post is vexing, but they say it won't be as big a deal at this distance at this track as it would be at Oaklawn.

Left is entered by a trainer who's not been off the board in the Louisiana Derby. He'll be between Wilkinson and Elite Alex in the starting gate. Left is inexperienced, and that is something that's hurt a lot of young starters in this year's prep races. Same deal with Nacho Business down at the other end of the gate, and others. Despite that thinking, Nehro bothers me some, being a son of Mineshaft trained by Steve Asmussen that drew off in his maiden win last time out.

DICK'S PICKS:

1. WILKINSON
2. MUCHO MACHO MAN
3. MACHEN
4. ELITE ALEX

Saturday, Race 10
Grade II Louisiana Derby
Fair Grounds
Purse: $1,000,000
Distance: 1 1/8 Mile
Surface: Dirt
Post Time: 5:55 ET

Post
Horse
  ML Jockey
Wt
S
M
Trainer
1
Nacho Business (KY)
  10-1 J. Bravo
122
C
L
K. Breen
2
Pants On Fire (KY)
  10-1 R. Napravnik
122
C
L
K. Breen
3
Nehro (KY)
  30-1 M. Baze
122
C
L
S. Asmussen
4
Mavericking (IL)
  20-1 S. Bridgmohan
122
C
L
N. Pessin
5
Mucho Macho Man (FL)
  9-5 R. Maragh
122
C
L
K. Ritvo
6
Liondrive (LA)
  50-1 J. Graham
122
C
L
T. Ice
7
Machen (KY)
  7-2 E. Prado
122
C
L
N. Howard
8
Majestic Harbor (KY)
  12-1 C. Lanerie
122
C
L
P. McGee
9
Le Mans (KY)
  20-1 R. Albarado
122
C
L
S. Asmussen
10 Wilkinson (KY)
  8-1 G. Gomez
122
C
L
N. Howard
11 Left (KY)
  10-1 J. Campbell
122
G
L
A. Stall Jr.
12 Elite Alex (ON)
  6-1 C. Borel
122
C
L
T. Ritchey
13 Populist Politics (LA)
  SCR R. Eramia
122
C
L
T. Amoss

Coupled Entries - Nacho Business & Pants On Fire

Owners:  1 - George & Lori Hall; 2 - George & Lori Hall; 3 - Zayat Stables, LLC (Ahmed Zayat); 4 - Team Block (David & Patricia Block); 5 - Reeves Thbd.Rac. & Dream Team 1 Rac. (Dean Reeves)(Jim Culver); 6 - Thomas Amenta & Tom Amenta, II; 7 - Courtlandt Farms (Donald A. Adam); 8 - Gallant Stable (Ron Beegle, et al); 9 - Padua Stables (Satish Sanan); 10 - Gaillardia Racing, LLC (Ed Gaylord); 11 - Adele B. Dilschneider & Claiborne Farm (Seth Hancock); 12 - Elite Alex, LLC (Charles Zacney, et al); 13 - Klaravich Stab.,Inc.& William H.Lawrence (Seth Klarman)

Breeders: 1 - Three Chimneys Farm LLC & Trust B U/TAlbert G. Clay Restated Rev. Trust; 2 - K & G Stables; 3 - Mt. Brilliant Farm LLC; 4 - Team Block; 5 - John D Rio & Carole A Rio; 6 - Rebecca Farms Inc.; 7 - Courtlandt Farm; 8 - Liberation Farm & Brandywine Farm; 9 - Bradley Purcell & Charles Parker; 10 - Gaillardia LLC; 11 - Claiborne Farm & Adele B. Dilschneider; 12 - Allison Register; 13 - B. Wayne Hughes

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