PANTS ON FIRE (Jump Start) shipped out early Sunday morning, one day following his gutsy neck victory in Fair Grounds' Louisiana Derby (G2). His trainer, Kelly Breen, had already returned to Sunland Park to saddle horses in the Sunland Derby (G3), but before leaving Breen indicated that Pants on Fire would be pointed for his next start in the Kentucky Derby (G1) less than six weeks away.
With Breen out of town, that left trainer Kathy Ritvo and MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno) easily accessible on the backstretch. The 41-year-old mother of two and her horse appeared none the worse for wear despite a slight mishap in Saturday's race.
For want of a shoe, the race might have been lost, or at least that's the way Ritvo was looking at things Sunday morning. Mucho Macho Man was sent off the 7-5 favorite against 11 rivals, but lost his right front shoe in his first stride out of the gate. The Risen Star S. (G2) victor ran a good race despite that to finish third, beaten a half-length by runner-up Nehro (Mineshaft), who was in turn a neck adrift of Pants on Fire.
"We can't win every time," the always upbeat Ritvo said. "We'd like to, but we can't. We'll just put what happened yesterday down as a learning experience, but you would think that when a horse loses a shoe right out of the gate it probably costs him two lengths, or at least one length.
"When I was watching the race, 'Macho' just didn't seem to be getting a good hold of the track the last part of it, and I couldn't figure out why," Ritvo explained, "but then when one of the gate guys came up to me and gave me the shoe right after the race it made a lot more sense to me. I didn't know about the shoe until then."
"The horse is doing fine this morning," Ritvo added. "I'm not discouraged at all. I don't see any reason right now that we can't go on and shoot for the Kentucky Derby with him."
While Pants on Fire and Mucho Macho Man are both bound for the first Saturday in May, the "Test of the Champion" may be more up WILKINSON's (Lemon Drop Kid) alley.
Assistant trainer Rick Giannini of conditioner Neil Howard's barn reported that both MACHEN (Distorted Humor) and Wilkinson, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Louisiana Derby, both came out of the race in good order.
"They're both fine," Giannini said. "Machen got a little tired, and Wilkinson got a little too far back early, but then he came running. Maybe he can be like his daddy and go on and win the Belmont S. (G1).
"As for PRIME CUT (Bernstein), he ran huge," Giannini added, "and he's doing fine this morning, too."
Prime Cut beat the highly regarded BIND (Pulpit) by three-quarters of a length in Saturday's 4TH race on the Louisiana Derby Day program. Bind was sent off the 1-9 favorite in the mile-and-70-yard test following his 9 1/2-length romp in his career debut over the track on February 19.
Trainer Al Stall Jr. reported all of his horses on the Louisiana Derby Day program came out of their races in good order. The conditioner has training duties on Bind and also saddled Might (Arch), a full sister to Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner and champion Blame, to win a maiden race on Saturday. His Louisiana Derby contestant, LEFT (Arch), suffered his first career loss while making his stakes bow a seventh-place run in the race, while Grade 2 hero APART (Flatter) finished second in the New Orleans H. (G2)
"All the horses are fine, we think," Stall said Sunday morning, "and they're all going to run back probably at Churchill and probably in just regular races. There's no (condition) book out yet, so we don't have anything definite planned."