Sir Bear Might run in Sunshine Millions Classic

Sir Bear is one of the most popular horses to race in South Florida in recent years and the 10-year-old gelding might be on display when in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Ocala Breeders Sales Classic at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25.

The Classic is one of eight unique races, worth $3.6 million, pitting Florida-breds against California-breds in head-to-head competition that day with four races scheduled each at Gulfstream and at Santa Anita Park on the West Coast.

"I just hope he's able to get into the Sunshine Millions Classic," trainer Ralph Ziadie said of Sir Bear. "They tell me we're right on the borderline as to whether he will get into the race. I certainly hope so because that's what we've been gearing him up for.

"He's still the same old 'Bear. He's been training great (Sir Bear turned in the second fastest workout of the day for five furlongs at Calder Race Course on Tuesday when he was clocked in 1:01 3/5 breezing). He's still happy as ever and he still loves his carrots. He never ceases to amaze me. I just hope he's able to get into the Sunshine Million Classic. We want to run him in there."

One thing for sure, Sir Bear loves Gulfstream racetrack and that and the Sunshine Million are the main reasons the venerable old gelding is still racing for owners Barbara and Al Smollin.

"That's why we decided to bring him back for another year of racing," Ziadie said. "He's a different horse at Gulfstream than he is at Calder. He'll train great over Calder's surface in the mornings, but can't seem to run over it in the afternoons. He's always run well at Gulfstream. I'm just thankful to the Lord for giving me such a horse to be able to compete in a race like this."

Sir Bear has won graded stakes races the last five years of his career. He won the Cigar Mile (G1) at Aqueduct in 1998, the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park in 1999, and Prairie Meadows' Cornhusker (G3) and the Texas Mile (G3) at Lone Star Park in 2000. Then in 2001, Sir Bear captured the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G1) and in 2002 won the Skip Away Handicap (G3) at the local track.
Sir Bear may not be the betting favorite in the Classic but he's sure to be the sentimental favorite.

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