Sunday, June 14, 2009

Macho Again comes up big

By Marty McGee
Daily Racing Form

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The elation of victory and the exasperation of defeat resulted from markedly different journeys around the Churchill Downs racetrack Saturday when Macho Again, always clear of trouble, won the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap while heavily favored Einstein had a brutal trip.

Macho Again gave jockey Robby Albarado his third straight victory in the $660,000 Foster Cap by rallying from last in a field of eight to prevail by a length over Asiatic Boy. Einstein finished a nose back in third and a neck ahead of a dead heat for fourth between Arson Squad and Bullsbay.

While Macho Again bided his time through the early stages of the 1 1/8-mile Foster, Einstein, the 124-pound highweight and 6-5 favorite under Julien Leparoux, was encumbered by traffic most of the way. Down the backstretch, Bullsbay and jockey Jeremy Rose had him pinned behind rivals toward the rail, and down the homestretch, Einstein first was trapped behind Asiatic Boy and Researcher -- and then Bullsbay and Researcher again -- before shaking free when it was far too late.

"They had him in a tough spot," said Helen Pitts, the trainer of Einstein. "It was hard for Julien to really do anything."

Leparoux seemed perturbed at how the race unfolded and said to reporters: "I'm on the horse to beat, so of course they're trying to beat me."

The triumph perpetuated a knack for winning in key spots by Macho Again, a gray 4-year-old by Macho Uno. Already a millionaire, the colt had won 5 of 17 previous starts, including the Derby Trial, Jim Dandy, and New Orleans Handicap. Trainer Dallas Stewart acknowledged beforehand that the colt was somewhat inconsistent, but exclaimed with glee moments after Macho Again crossed under the wire: "I told you he was more in than out!"

Macho Again, carrying 117 pounds, gave the West Point Thoroughbreds syndicate its second win from the last three runnings of the Foster, adding to their 2007 score with Flashy Bull. Albarado rode Flashy Bull and Curlin last year to win the Foster, the annual highlight of the post-Kentucky Derby segment of the Churchill spring meet.

"The race set up great for us today," said Albarado.

Macho Again earned $396,924, upping his career total to $1,475,247.

After the dead heat for fourth, the running order for the 28th Foster was Researcher, Finallymadeit, and Alphabet Magic.

Einstein was trying to follow Lava Man in becoming just the second horse to win Grade 1 races over three different surfaces. He was coming off wins in the Santa Anita Handicap over Pro-Ride in March and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in May.

The Foster anchored a day of five graded stakes. In the others, Florentino ($9.20) won the Jefferson Cup, Successful Dan ($6.40) took the Northern Dancer, Miss Isella ($5.40) captured the Fleur de Lis, and Keertana ($14.80) won the Regret.

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