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Mucho Macho Man hoping to put Gwinnett on horse racing map again

Mucho Macho Man, ridden by Gary Stevens (not pictured), before Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park in Santa Anita, Calif. The horse is owned by Suwanee couple Dean and Patti Reeves. (Photo: Kelvin Kuo/USA Today Sports)

Mucho Macho Man, ridden by Gary Stevens (not pictured), before Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park in Santa Anita, Calif. The horse is owned by Suwanee couple Dean and Patti Reeves. (Photo: Kelvin Kuo/USA Today Sports)

Dean and Patti Reeves are Mucho Macho Man’s owners, not jockeys — but that doesn’t mean the horse hasn’t taken them on one heck of a ride.

In 2011, a 3-year-old Mucho Macho Man galloped his way to a third-place finish at the Kentucky Derby, following it up with sixth- and seventh-place finishes in the Preakness and Belmont, respectively. A year later, he took second in the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Saturday, he’ll compete in the latter again, vying for the massive $5 million prize. His owners — a Suwanee couple and relative newcomers to the thoroughbred racing world — will be along for the ride.

“He is one of the best horses in the world, and we never dreamed that we would have this kind of ride,” Dean Reeves said Friday from Santa Anita, Calif. “He’s opened a lot of doors for us. It’s been the thrill of a lifetime.”

Now a seasoned veteran, Mucho Macho Man gained an automatic berth into this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic by winning last month’s Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park, the same place he’ll be racing come 8:35 p.m. back home.

In what could be his last race before going to stud, Mucho Macho Man isn’t the betting favorite (that’s Game On Dude, owned by former baseball manager Joe Torre) but is considered a big-time contender. About 40 friends and family members will be there cheering him on when he takes off from Post 6, Patti Reeves said.

“It’s such a world-class event and to be a part of it is just great,” she said. “The horse has been training really well and he’s in great shape.”

Mucho Macho Man’s success has also spurred the Reeves into action.

Over the last two years, the couple has created the Georgia Horse Racing Coalition and made a major push to bring the sport to Georgia. The group contends that legalized horse racing would bring $50 million in tax revenues — as well as new jobs and tourism — to Georgia each year.

Dean Reeves said Friday that the coalition is “making good progress” with folks inside the industry, and that it’s hoping to “put the stronghold on the politicians” soon.

Saturday, though, is all about Mucho Macho Man.

“He’s coming into the race as good as we can hope for,” Dean Reeves said. “I think he’ll be in the mix at the end.”

VIDEO

In the final race of the 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic Challenge series, Mucho Macho Man wins the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on September 28, 2013, earning a guaranteed berth in the Classic gate.