Photo by:  Benoit Photo

ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 3, 2013) – Climaxed by a Breeders’ Cup Classic that typified everything that’s right about Thoroughbred racing–the beauty, the drama and the rhythmic oneness of both horse and rider–Mucho Macho Man was a near-unanimous choice as Horse of the Meet in Santa Anita’s Autumn Media Poll, by virtue of his thrilling nose victory over Will Take Charge in the $5 million Classic at 1 ¼ miles on Nov. 2.

It was the second Grade I win at the meet for Mucho Macho Man, who won the Awesome Again Stakes by 4 ¼ lengths on Sept. 28. Each time the 5-year-old bay horse was ridden by 50-year-old Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who returned to the saddle in January after a seven-year retirement.

Owned by Dean and Patty Reeves and trained by Kathy Ritvo, Mucho Macho Man earned $2,750,000 for his Classic victory, more than double his previous career bankroll of $2,590,410, and increasing it to $5,340,410.

“I’m happier for my horse,” Ritvo said after the exciting triumph, in which Stevens raised his whip in celebration as he and Mucho Macho Man crossed the finish line. “. . . When Gary waved the stick, I figured he won . . . He is a good horse.”

The positive trickle-down effect from the Classic was evident in other aspects of the Media Poll. Mucho Macho Man was also named Outstanding Older Horse, while the Classic was named Race of the Meet. Reeves Thoroughbred Racing also was voted Outstanding Owner, having earned $2,900,000 thanks to Mucho Macho Man’s two rich victories.

Even though Rafael Bejarano earned yet another Santa Anita riding title with 26 wins, Stevens was named Outstanding Jockey, thanks to his success in Breeders’ Cup races, capped by his win on Beholder in the $2 million Distaff and Mucho Macho Man in the Classic. Stevens won 18 races from 66 mounts, but his horses earned $6,160,124 in purse money.

Breeders’ Cup winners, understandably, dominated polling in other categories, led by

reigning Horse of the Year and defending Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Wise Dan.

A 6-year-old chestnut gelding owned and bred in Kentucky by Morton Fink and trained by Charles LoPresti, Wise Dan started a new winning streak by capturing the Mile again. He earned $1,100,000, pushing his career earnings to $6,293,610.

Beholder validated her impressive Zenyatta Stakes win with a 4 ¼-length triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, vanquishing champion Royal Delta and Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar, to be named on all ballots as Outstanding 3-year-old filly. Owned by the Spendthrift Farm of B. Wayne Hughes and trained by Richard Mandella, Beholder was named Outstanding 2-year-old filly in last year’s Media Poll, later winning an Eclipse Award as best in her division.

Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents led throughout to win the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile by 2 ¾ lengths to earn Male 3-Year-Old honors.

Other selections were: defending Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Groupie Doll, Older Filly or Mare; defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Mizdirection, Grass Filly or Mare; Juvenile winner New Year’s Day, 2-Year-Old; Ria Antonia, who was placed first via disqualification of She’s a Tiger in the Juvenile Fillies, 2-Year-Old Filly; and Sprint winner Secret Circle, Outstanding Sprinter.

Bob Baffert held off Doug O’Neill and Peter Miller to win another Santa Anita training crown. The 60-year-old Baffert won with 15 of 66 starters to top runners-up Miller and O’Neill (13 wins each). Baffert sent out two Breeders’ Cup winners, New Year’s Day in the Juvenile and Secret Circle in the Xpressbet Sprint.

Irving Orozco was named top Apprentice Jockey. The 19-year-old Glendale native, who grew up in Victorville, won with nine of his 96 mounts.

Big Wags was named Claimer of the Meet. A winner at the $16,000 claiming level on Oct. 11 for trainer Bill Spawr and owner Stuart Tross (StarStables LLC) of Calabasas, the 6-year-old Posse gelding came back to win a starter allowance on closing day by a half-length.