NEW YORK (AP) - Mucho Macho Man won the $350,000 Suburban Handicap on Saturday at Belmont Park, beating Hymn Book by 2 1/2 lengths.
After sitting second behind the pacesetting Trickmeister, Mucho Macho Man took charge turning for home and was under a hand ride from Mike Smith approaching the finish wire. The time was 1:46.58 for 1 1/8 miles.
The 4-year-old, trained by Kathy Ritvo, has six victories in 16 starts.
``I knew he was a nice horse, but he really, really impressed me,'' said Smith, who came in from California to ride Mucho Macho Man. ``From the time I got on him he was so confident. He left the gate in great order - for a big horse, he's quick! I mean, every step was a winning one. I couldn't believe how easy he beat (a strong field). I mean, you put that bunch in the Breeders' Cup Classic, your favorite is going to come out of this race. He just ran them off their feet.''
Mucho Macho Man, third last year in the Kentucky Derby, paid $13.60, $5.40 and $4.10.
``It was an awesome job by Mike Smith, Kathy, and everyone involved,'' owner Dean Reeves said. ``I'm so happy for my horse. He ran a good race, a solid race. This is really an extraordinary horse. He beat a great field of horses today.''
Hymn Book returned $5.20 and $3.90, and Trickmeister paid $6.20 to show.
Emma's Encore paid $80 to win for her upset victory in the $150,000 Victory Ride Stakes for 3-year-old fillies as Agave Kiss, the 1-5 favorite, suffered her first defeat.
Junior Alvarado was aboard for Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens as Emma's Encore got her third victory in nine starts. Agave Kiss, undefeated in seven starts coming in, set the pace under pressure from Jamaican Smoke before fading to fifth in the six-horse field.
``I was being optimistic when I picked this race,'' the 83-year-old Jerkens said. ``It's so nice to win one. We hadn't been doing any good at all lately, so this really helps a lot.''