There were no Kentucky Derby (G1) qualifying points on the line in Saturday’s $100,000 Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park, but the one-mile race might have had an impact on the make-up of upcoming Derby preps around Florida in the coming month.
Calumet Farm’s Sonic Mule, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Javier Castellano, dug in through the lane and repelled State of Honor to win by a head after that rival had taken a short lead after six furlongs.
“Todd and I discussed the race a little bit. Usually, Todd doesn’t say too much about the race. He told me it was up to me,” Castellano said. “We knew there was a lot of speed in the race. He put me in a good spot. We let the other horse dictate the pace and I followed the speed. It worked out great. He was motivated and encouraged to go forward when the other horse came to him. He fought all the way to the wire.”
The 9-2 second choice in a field of 11 sophomores, Sonic Mule paid $11.40. State of Honor was 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Talk Logistics, who had finished second to Sonic Mule in last month’s $75,000 Buffalo Man going six furlongs at Gulfstream Park.
The disappointments of the field were the Godolphin-owned duo of Cavil, the 5-2 favorite who finished sixth, and Nashua (G2) winner Hemsworth, who was eased after losing contact with the field around the far turn.
Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, Sonic Mule won at first asking going 5 1/2 furlongs at Monmouth Park, and then placed in the Saratoga Special (G2), $103,000 Sapling, and the $75,000 Armed Forces on turf before commencing his current three-race win streak in a six-furlong Gulfstream Park West allowance. That was followed by his 1 3/4-length triumph in the Buffalo Man, contested in the slop.
“I was a little concerned how he would handle the mile. We tried to stretch him out a little bit earlier,” said Pletcher, in reference to the one-mile Sapling and Armed Forces. “But the one thing I did feel good about was he breezed really well the other day and seemed like he was coming into any race, whatever it would be, in good form. It was just a matter of working out a trip and seeing if he could get the distance.”
By Distorted Humor and out of the A.P. Indy mare Globe Trot, Sonic Mule counts as his second dam multiple Grade 3 winner Trip. Grade-1 winning sprinter Zensational, multiple Grade 2 scorer Departing, and the smart turf sprinting mare Ageless also hail from this family.
In the $100,000 Ginger Brew, for three-year-old fillies at 7 1/2 furlongs on firm turf, Bellavais advanced from the back along the rail, got through between rivals in the stretch and drove past outsider India Mantuana to score the victory by three-quarters of a length under John Velazquez.
The mild 4-1 favorite in a field of 12, Bellavais returned $10.60 after finishing up in 1:30.37. India Mantuana, the long-time pacesetter at 16-1, comfortably held second by 1 1/4 lengths over Lady Alexandra.
A homebred racing for the Phillips Racing Partnership associated with Darby Dan Farm, Bellavais is trained by Jimmy Toner. Third and second in her first two outings, she was elevated to first via disqualification in her juvenile finale November 9 at Aqueduct in a one-mile turf maiden.
By Tapit and out of the Grade 3-winning La Cloche, Bellavais counts as her second dam the multiple Grade 1-winning Memories of Silver, who also reared the multiple Grade 1 winner Winter Memories.