Mucho Macho Man is running for cause

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NEW YORK --- Mucho Macho Man is running for more than glory in the Belmont Stakes.

He is also carrying the banner for organ donation, a cause near to trainer Kathy Ritvo. She was the recipient of a lifesaving transplant in November 2008.

"If somebody was on the fence whether they were going to donate a family member's organs and they saw the Kentucky Derby or Preakness or see the coverage for the Belmont, they might say, 'Look at what this lady was able to accomplish,' " Ritvo said.

Ritvo was suffering from cardiomyopathy, a deterioration of the heart muscle.

Mucho Macho Man joins Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and Preakness winner Shackleford today as the only three horses to run in all three Triple Crown races.

BARKING: Master of Hounds had a strong mile gallop Friday, only his second day out of quarantine. The protective isolation was required because he returned to Ireland after running fifth in the Kentucky Derby.

The Derby was his first race on dirt, and an important learning experience.

"It was all new to him," said T.J. Comerford , assistant to trainer Aidan O'Brien . "It was like he had a bit of practice, and you'd like to think he's up for it now."

Deep in preparation for the Royal Ascot meet in England, O'Brien was still considering a flight from Ireland that would get him to New York today.

Even from a distance, O'Brien is closely involved in the colt's preparations.

"I'm on the phone with him three times a day," Comerford said. "It's a big thing to get a horse ready for one race from so far away. We're pleased we've got him this far. I don't think we can get him any better."

ON THE JERSEY SHORE: Ruler On Ice will be the last Belmont horse to arrive after trainer Kelly Breen decided to keep him at his barn at Monmouth Park.

The gelding had his final pre-race gallop Friday morning and will arrive early today.

"It's just how we normally run," Breen said. "We're not sure what time we're leaving here yet. He's doing fine. Everybody's great."

Ruler On Ice will wear blinkers, a hood that restricts vision, for the first time.

GOING THE DISTANCE: Isn't He Perfect should have plenty of stamina for the 1 1/2-mile race, but whether he is quick enough remains to be seen. He has never won a stakes race.

Isn't He Perfect has had only two workouts since April.

His trainer, Doodnauth Shivmangal, started in Guyana earlier in his career and combines techniques used in his native country with those from the United States. The horseman hopes his system, which emphasizes long, slow gallops over speed drills pays off.

"It's a long race, and you need your horse to stay the distance," Shivmangal said. "... Your horse has to have some endurance."


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