Mucho Macho Man went into Saratoga as the 4-5 favorite in the 59th running of the Woodward Stakes, but left the dirt with a second place finish as To Honor And Servepulled off the upset.
To Honor And Serve and Mucho Macho Man are two of the top older horses and they were expected to be joined by Shackleford, the 2011 winner of the Preakness Stakes, before he was scratched with a cough. Both horses have had nice seasons in 2012. Mucho Macho Man came into the Woodward as a winner of 3 of this last 4 starts, including the Grade II Suburban Handicap at Belmont. To Honor And Serve now has six graded stakes wins in his career with the victory on Saturday, and also won Westchester back in the spring.
Out of the starting gate, long shot Rule went to the lead, with Trickmeister just behind him, as To Honor And Serve and Mucho Macho Man trailed, getting out slow. Through 1/4 mile, Rule was setting a fast pace, maintaining a one length lead. The leader at the half mile continued to be Rule, but Trickmeister was starting to make up ground, while the favorites held their pace. Around the turn is where the race started tightening, as To Honor And Serve moved outside and Mucho Macho Man, who had stayed along the rail the entire trip started move to move towards the middle. To Honor And Serve drew up to and moved away from the fading Rule and Trickmeister couldn’t hold off Mucho Macho Man and it became a fantastic two horse race half way down the stretch. The two favorites put up a ferocious battle going nose to nose, but To Honor And Serve was able to just pull away and won by a neck.
Mucho Macho Man trainer Katherine Ritvo attributed her thoroughbreds finish to the slow start out of the gate, while winning jockey John Velasquez said his ride was “perfect”. To Honor And Serve and Mucho Macho Man are pointed towards the Breeders’ Cup, but both will likely have one more race before November.