Lady and The Track | December 10, 2022

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Home » Horses We Love » A Bittersweet Goodbye; How Mucho Macho Man Gave Me The Horse Racing Bug

A Bittersweet Goodbye; How Mucho Macho Man Gave Me The Horse Racing Bug

A Bittersweet Goodbye; How Mucho Macho Man Gave Me The Horse Racing Bug: After seeing the official retirement notice on Twitter for Mucho Macho Man on July 15, 2014, I have to say, it did not come as a shock to me. I was relieved and sad at the same time. Relieved in that after his race in the this past March, I didn’t have a good feeling about his racing career this year. I don’t know why, gut instinct maybe. Then he had ankle bruising and I was even more skeptical. I had been patiently waiting for information on my first horse-crush and it came with a hint of gut-wrenching sadness as well as I found myself crying at the same time as being somewhat relieved.

Macho Man Gave Me The Horseracing Bug

Kari shows off her Mucho Macho Man hat she bought before heading out to the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Races at Santa Anita.

You see, Mucho Macho Man caught my attention when he was prepping for the 2011 Kentucky Derby. The story surrounding his birth, the horse who everyone thought was dead (he was born June 15th, 2009 on Father’s Day) in a field, who when Carol Mohr-Rio’s pulled up, they ran out to the field, began to vigorously rub his chest, to give up thinking he was dead. He leapt up, ran like the wind, earning the nickname “Lazarus” and off he went. Soon to be teamed up the recent heart transplant recipient trainer Kathy Ritvo and his owners Dean and Patti Reeves. His story had me hooked and I played him in all three of the Triple Crown races. He was third in the Derby and that was as close as he got. Then it was summer, time to move on.

At the time, I was a fair-weathered handicapper. I started following the Triple Crown series in 2008 after some friends kept talking about the filly Eight Belles and I literally bet four times a year after that. The Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. A few years later, after the 2012 Triple Crown series, I somehow caught wind of Mucho Macho Man running in the Suburban Handicap that July. I would read Horse Racing Nation and the Daily Racing Form when I could, which was my only link to horse racing at the time.

He won that race and was heading to the Breeders’ Cup Classic in Santa Anita that year. I decided, what the heck, I’m going! I only live 6 hours away and I’ll just drive over. I couldn’t find anyone else to go with me so I booked a room and started to plan my trip. I was getting ready to buy tickets and chickened out. Did I really want to go alone? Wouldn’t be as fun and what if I got lost driving around L.A? So I talked myself out of going and canceled the room.

Now, I didn’t talk about horse racing or betting much with family or friends. It was only a few times a year thing and it wasn’t something I was into the rest of the year. So they really had no clue that I had a stronger new interest in it.

Macho Man Gave Me The Horseracing Bug

Mucho Macho Man winning by a nostril over Will Take Charge in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

So my sister calls me a week later and says, “You like horse racing right?” Me, “Yeah, why?” Julie, “Well, I met some friends here and they go to the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup ever year. I figured if you want to go to the Breeders Cup, as it’s in Santa Anita, I’ll pay for your way for your birthday this year.”

Speechless. Dumbfounded. Shutup. How did she know? So I said, “Oh my god, I have to tell you a story!” So I burned up her ear for 15 minutes telling her about wanting to go see Mucho Macho Man run and my plans. So we set it and went. Mind you, the only racetrack I had been to was Del Mar once twenty years ago, barely remember it and Turf Paradise twice. So I was pretty excited!

What a trip! I was sold hook, line and sinker after watching all of the racing and spending two days at the race track. We got to go barnside from a veterinarian friend. Standing by the finish line heart pounding, hoofs pounding, people yelling. The Coup De Gras of horse racing. It was fantastic. I met some other super fans of Mucho Macho Man as well. They had a really cool Team Mucho Macho Man sign and we all stood there at the finish line cheering like crazy. Watching Mucho Macho Man come so close for second after losing to Fort Larned was heartbreaking and I was hooked.

That night after the Classic, we were chatting in our room and I said to my sister, “I think I’d like to come back here for my 50th birthday. I have a feeling Mucho Macho Man is going to run again and I think as a 5 year old he’ll be a lot better.” She was sold as well. We left that next morning and rebooked our room plus one for my mom and Aunt Kay for the 2013 Breeders’ Cup.

Macho Man Gave Me The Horseracing Bug

Kari’s Mucho Macho Man fan club score from Dean and Patti Reeves of Reeves Thoroughbred Racing.

I decided to start keeping up with horse racing on a more regular basis since we were going back again the next year. Between finding Lady and The Track on facebook and starting to chat with Trixie quite regularly and comment on her articles, I soon was asked if I would like to write and handicap for their beginners website. I was excited and scared at the same time but what an adventure that has turned out to be. Soon twitter followed and I’m definitely getting better and better as a handicapper and learning more every day.

The 2013 Breeders’ Cup arrived and what a fun trip! My mom, sister, Aunt Kay & myself all got green/gold pedicures and manicures (Mucho Macho Man and the Reeves’ colors). We had five days of fun and festivities with the Breeders Cup Classic race being hands-down the best birthday present ever. With Mucho Macho Man winning with that fabulous photo finish with Will Take Charge, I couldn’t have asked for anything more exciting. Along with my family and friends being there with me, his win made my horse racing lifetime best event.

If it weren’t for Mucho Macho Man, my sister, my capper buddy Sigi Mendoza and Lady and The Track, I don’t think I would be the avid horse racing fan that I am today. I have them all to thank plus the continued fun and knowledge I have gained from twitter and following so many wonderful and exceptional horse racing handicappers and friends. Goodbye Moochie! Thank you to the Reeves’ and Kathy Ritvo for taking such great care of him, he made this fan a believer.