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Local Kentucky Derby contender becomes face of Ga. horseracing advocates

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Billboards for Mucho Macho Man, a horse owned by the Reeves family of Suwanee that will run in next weekend's Kentucky Derby, have sprung up on the downtown connector, billing him as "Your Hometown Horse."

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Billboards for Mucho Macho Man, a horse owned by the Reeves family of Suwanee that will run in next weekend's Kentucky Derby, have sprung up on the downtown connector, billing him as "Your Hometown Horse."

LAWRENCEVILLE -- If you find yourself near the downtown connector in the coming days, keep a lookout -- there may be a very large horse staring you down.

The horse is a 3-year-old colt known as Mucho Macho Man, the Kentucky Derby contender owned by Suwanee residents Dean and Patti Reeves. The Reeveses recently shelled out the money to put their thoroughbred on four billboards around the downtown Atlanta area, dubbing Mucho Macho Man Georgia's "Hometown Horse."

"We're not selling anything, believe me, the horse is not for sale," Patti Reeves said Tuesday with a laugh. "We're trying to raise awareness and pique interest in horse racing in general."

Behind it all is the Reeves' advocacy for passing legislation that would make horse racing legal in Georgia. Mucho Macho Man has become the bellcow for that cause, and the Reeveses are using his very real chance at winning the Kentucky Derby next weekend to bring their mission to the forefront.

The billboards can be found on Interstate 85 at University Avenue, Interstate 20 eastbound near Turner Hill Road and again near Sigman Road, and on Cobb Parkway near Barrett Parkway.

"We think (horseracing in Georgia) would be good for the economy, it would create jobs," Reeves said. "We're just trying to raise awareness."

Dean Reeves is already in Louisville, and Patti will be joining him on Thursday. Patti said she and her husband are "a nervous wreck," but Mucho Macho Man has adapted well after going from the sunny climes of Florida to a colder, rainier Kentucky.

The most recent odds published by allhorseracing.com give Mucho Macho Man a 12-to-1 shot -- the fifth-best of any horse in the field -- of finding the winner's circle at Churchill Downs on May 7.

"He's loving it," she said. "He's worked out on the track a couple of times and he's not bothered by the mud. As a matter of fact, we think he'll do very well if it rains on Derby day."