Katherine Ritvo Becomes 1st Female to Train Breeders' Cup Classic Winner
When Mucho Macho Man crossed the finish line first to capture the 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic, the five-year-old colt's victory came with enormous historic connotations.
Not only was it jockey Gary Stevens' first Classic championship of his legendary career, but Katherine Ritvo is also in a class of her own as the only woman to train a race winner, per Jennie Rees of The Courier-Journal:
Mucho Macho Man and 50yo grandad Gary Stevens by nose win #BreedersCup Classic. Kathy Ritvo 1st female to train Classic winner.— Jennie Rees (@CJ_Jennie) November 3, 2013
Coming into the race at 5-1 odds, per Bovada, Mucho Macho Man sprinted out of the gate and maintained the lead for much of the race, held at the historic Santa Anita Park. Stevens kept his stride steady as they held the lead by a few lengths, only pressing his horse hard when Will Take Charge and Declaration of War came charging for the lead.
But like any well-trained horse, Mucho Macho Man had just enough to capture victory by a nose. Will Take Charge finished second, and Declaration of War came in third. In the emotion of the moment, an overwhelmed Stevens was quick to thank his horse's trainer, per The Baron:
"I love you, I love this horse. You just made an old man very happy." - Mucho Macho Man's jockey Gary Stevens to trainer Katherine Ritvo.— The Baron (@TW_Baron) November 3, 2013
Ritvo's story even beyond her on-the-track accomplishment is one of inspiration. In 2008, she was lying on what could have been her deathbed in need of a heart transplant. She waited on the list for 18 months before finally receiving the heart and instantly began working toward her dream of training a winning thoroughbred.
Mucho Macho Man proved to be her career-defining horse. He entered the 2011 Kentucky Derby and nearly allowed Ritvo to make history there, finishing third when Animal Kingdom shocked the world. The duo would enter each of the three Triple Crown races that year but could never quite get over the hump.
It seems that, like his trainer, Mucho Macho Man was merely waiting for the right moment. This is the trio's second major win in their last two tries, with Mucho Macho Man pulling out a huge win at the Awesome Again G1 Stakes, upsetting the popular Paynter.
But it's unlikely that any win—past or future—will be as special as Ritvo's historic triumph on Saturday.
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