Arcadia, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - The news came early Saturday that Breeders' Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man was going to make his next start in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap at a 1 1/4 miles on March 8.
"I got an early morning text today," said Santa Anita Vice President Racing/Racing Secretary Rick Hammerle. "Many times when the phone goes off in the morning, it's not good news. But this was great news. (trainer) Kathy Ritvo called and told us that her and her team had decided to come back to Santa Anita."
Santa Anita has been a lucky place for Mucho Macho Man. As a 5-year-old in 2013 he won the Awesome Again Stakes at the track prior to claiming the Classic on Nov. 2.
"We're thrilled that Mucho Macho Man is coming back to his second home here in California. They love it here and we love to have them," Hammerle added. "A good race just got better. We're hoping to put together a star-studded field, maybe even a repeat of the Breeders' Cup Classic."
After winning the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 18 by 14 lengths, owners Dean and Patti Reeves along with Ritvo and racing manager Finn Green were considering sending Mucho Macho Man to Dubai for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 29.
"There were some great opportunities for him, but the horse is telling us he's getting ready now," Ritvo said. "We thought long and hard about where to go, and we have to do what we feel is best for the horse. I think he'd run well wherever he went. We know about going to Santa Anita now, so it's nice to go back."
Expected to meet the 6-year-old in the Big 'Cap are defending winner Game On Dude and recent San Antonio Stakes champ Blingo. Blingo, trained by John Shirreffs, won the San Antonio as a 15-1 longshot while 3-10 favorite Game On Dude faded to fifth in the seven-horse field.