Paul P. Pompa Jr.s Tommy Macho returned to the winner’s circle Saturday on the Pegasus World Cup undercard with a three-quarter length victory in the $125,000 Fred W. Hooper Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
With jockey Luis Saez aboard, Tommy Macho tracked in third as Moves Like Ali set the pace through early splits of :24.09 and :46.57. The bay horse bided his time running three wide just off the flank of First Growth, who pressed Moves Like Ali down the backstretch.
Tommy Macho took command entering the lane, but found Conquest Big E threatening to his outside. The Kentucky-bred dug deep to fend off his challenger, finishing a mile over Gulfstream’s fast main track in 1:36.10.
Sent off the 2-1 favorite, Tommy Macho returned $6.20. Conquest Big E had 4 1/4 lengths to spare on third-placer Tale of Silence, who in turn was five lengths clear of Giuseppe the Great. Completing the order of finish were Frammento, First Growth, 7-2 second choice Beasley, Eight Town and Moves Like Ali.
Tommy Macho’s last score came when he romped by 5 3/4 lengths in the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3) to kick off his 2017 campaign. In his remaining six races last year, the Todd Pletcher trainee finished third in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2), Carter Handicap (G1), Metropolitan Handicap (G1) and Belmont Sprint Championship Stakes (G2).
The bay son of Macho Uno was a subpar seventh in the Forego Stakes (G1) at Saratoga last August, and closed out the year with a well-beaten fourth in the Kelso Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park on September 23.
Tommy Macho returned to action in the Hooper off a four-month break, and improved his career record to 19-6-1-7, $888,320 while making his six-year-old debut in this spot. This is his second win in the race, as he also captured the 2016 running by 3 3/4 lengths.
Bred in Kentucky by John Liviakis, Tommy Macho is out of the Awesome Again mare Starstream. His fourth dam is Grade 1 heroine Zalataia, who foaled 1992 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) upsetter Fraise.
FRED W. HOOPER QUOTES
Luis Saez, jockey Tommy Macho, winner
“That stretch run was really impressive. He was really ready for this race today. He broke well, we got a perfect position, and when we hit the stretch he just took off. I feel blessed and proud with how my season is going.”
Todd Pletcher, trainer Tommy Macho, winner
“He’s a cool horse. I give the horse a lot of credit. He loves Gulfstream. He loves the one-turn mile. He’s been awfully good to us. We’ll probably skip the (February 24 Hal’s Hope [G3]) and go to the race on March 31 (Gulfstream Park Mile [G2]).”