Homeracing

Why I'm Betting Well Defined in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes

Profile Picture: Keeler Johnson

January 2nd, 2019

When six horses head to the starting gate for Saturday’s $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park, most handicappers will have their eyes on #4 Code of Honor, and understandably so.

Although the Mucho Macho Man is not an official Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race, the one-mile event serves as a stepping stone toward Gulfstream’s three Derby prep races and will mark the seasonal debut of the highly regarded Code of Honor, a colt currently ranked #6 on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 list.

Code of Honor opened his career with a front-running maiden win going six furlongs at Saratoga, a noteworthy performance since he isn’t particularly bred to be an early-maturing sprinter. Furthermore, trainer Shug McGaughey rarely sends out ready-to-win first-time starters, so when his youngsters run like Code of Honor did on debut, it’s wise to pay attention.

Code of Honor followed up that performance with another strong effort in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont, held over a one-turn mile similar to the configuration of the Mucho Macho Man Stakes. Despite stumbling at the start and winding up in last place early on, Code of Honor rallied strongly to finish a clear second with speed figures of 95 (BRIS) and 91 (Beyer).

But here’s the thing—Code of Honor hasn’t run since then, having missed the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) due to an illness and the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) due to lackluster pre-race training. As a result, he’ll enter the Mucho Macho Man off a bit of a layoff, and with only four workouts under his belt since arriving in Florida—none of them longer than a half-mile—I think it’s fair to question whether Code of Honor is fully cranked for Saturday’s race.

That’s why I’m going to take a shot against him with #2 Well Defined. This speedy Florida-bred son of With Distinction has never finished out of the trifecta in four starts at Gulfstream Park, including a powerful 7 ½-length romp in the 8.5-furlong Florida Sire In Reality Stakes, in which he led all the way while throwing down sharp speed figures of 103 (BRIS) and 91 (Beyer).

Well Defined subsequently took a big step up in class for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I), where he was hard-urged to contend for the lead after breaking a bit awkwardly. Unfortunately, his rushed beginning wasn’t quite enough to secure the early advantage, and Well Defined wound up racing behind horses along the inside, a position that he didn’t seem to care for. From there, Well Defined gradually retreated to finish twelfth but wasn’t asked for much run down the homestretch.

If Well Defined can secure a more favorable early position in the Mucho Macho Man, I think we’ll see him rebound in a big way, especially while returning to Gulfstream Park. Thanks to the presence of Code of Honor, Well Defined should also offer solid odds, so I’ll bet him to win while also playing him on top in the exacta and trifecta:

$13 to win on #2 Well Defined $6 exacta: 2 with 4 ($6) $3 exacta: 2 with 3 ($3) $2 trifecta: 2 with 4 with 1,3,6 ($6) $2 trifecta: 2 with 3 with 4 ($2)

Good luck!
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