ELMONT, N.Y. -- Jockey Ramon Dominguez on Sunday morning got acquainted with his mount for next Saturday's Belmont Stakes, working Mucho Macho Man a solid five furlongs in 59.57 seconds over the Belmont main track.
It was the first time Dominguez was aboard Mucho Macho Man, who had been ridden to a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby and a sixth-place finish in the Preakness by Rajiv Maragh.
Working after the renovation break on a resplendent late spring morning, Mucho Macho Man backed up to the wire after entering the track at the 1 1/8-mile gap that meets up with the training track. After Dominguez turned him around and sent him off the right way, Mucho Macho Man galloped lightly and smoothly until he hit the 5 1/2-furlong pole when he began to pick up the tempo.
Breaking off at the five-furlong pole, Mucho Macho Man went in fractions of 12.08 seconds for the opening eighth, 23.93 seconds for the quarter, and 35.22 for three furlongs. Dominguez said Mucho Macho Man switched leads at the top of the lane. He came home in a very solid in 24.35 on his own. Mucho Macho Man galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.18.
"The first part, he felt like he was going pretty comfortably, and at the top of the lane he switched leads and he picked it up on his own," Dominguez said. "I didn't feel like he was going that fast. He's got a long stride on him, it's a little deceiving really."
While trainer Kathy Ritvo wasn't necessarily looking for that fast of a work, she was happy with it.
"He went very good today, I think Ramon fit him really well," Ritvo said. "He was comfortable on him, he let him do it on his own, and he went great. Finished up well, galloped out good, good energy."
Mucho Macho Man will be one of three horses -- including Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and Preakness winner Shackleford -- to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown.
Ritvo said that the change of riders was more of just making a change for change sake, and not necessarily an indictment of Maragh's ride in the Preakness.
"It was okay," Ritvo said of the ride. "We just decided to make a change, I don't really want to get into all of that."
Since losing a front shoe in the Preakness, Mucho Macho Man has been wearing Polyflex glue-on shoes. Ritvo said that Mucho Macho Man has been traveling "very well" in his new shoes.
"His balance has been great and he worked super today," Ritvo said. "Ramon said he felt great with his front feet. His feet have never been a concern, just losing the shoes. We just got to make sure they stay on."
Also working Sunday at Belmont was Gotham winner Stay Thirsty, who went five furlongs in 1:00.40 under jockey Javier Castellano. He worked in company with Illinois Derby winner Joe Vann. Stay Thirsty was timed in splits of 12.20, 24.20, and 36.40. He galloped out in 1:13.40.
Stay Thirsty worked shortly after 6 a.m. to accommodate Castellano, who had to catch a mid-morning flight to Canada, where he was to ride Sunday at Woodbine.