The second annual Sunshine Milliions, which will be held Jan. 24 at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita Park, drew 309 early bird nominations, down slightly from last year's total of 325.
The Sunshine Millions is a unique event made up of four races worth $3.6 million that matches California-bred horses against Florida-breds. The races are alternated between Santa Anita and Gulfstream, both owned by Magna Entertainment.
"The nominations for this year are slightly less than the first year but I think the reason for that is horsemen are more aware of the Sunshine Millions," said Santa Anita Park racing secretary Rick Hammerle. "Maybe they're taking back and watching to see what horses enter, because they can still enter a late nomination for only $500."
Late nominations can be made for $500 until Jan. 10, 2004.
"I expect the overall quality of this year's Sunshine Millions to be just as good as last year's, if not better," said Gulfstream Park racing secretary David F. Bailey.
The Sunshine Millions will again be broadcast nationally by NBC from 1-3 p.m. PST.
The $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic, won by Florida-bred Best of the Rest in its inaugural running at Gulfstream Park, will be decided at Santa Anita this year.
Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, in line for his fourth consecutive Eclipse Award and fifth overall, has nominated two standouts for the $1 million Barretts/CTBA Classic at Santa Anita. They are Florida-breds Peace Rules, who defeated Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness winner Funny Cide (gr. I) in this year's Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I) and and Midas Eyes.
The Judge Sez Who, one of the choices in the inaugural Classic, is another talented Florida-bred pointing to the Classic. Winner of the 2002 Oklahoma Derby (gr. III) and the Fred Hooper Handicap (gr. III), The Judge Sez Who took the summer off but came back with a sharp effort in his return.
In all, 51 horses were nominated to the Classic, to be decided at 1 1/8 miles.
The three other Sunshine Millions stakes at Santa Anita are the $500,000 Filly & Mare Turf for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles; the $300,000 Filly & Mare Sprint for 4-year-olds and up at six furlongs; and the $250,000 NATC Dash for 3-year-olds at six furlongs. They closed with 30, 35, and 41 nominations, respectively.
At Gulfstream, the $500,000 Franks Farm Turf headlines. Adminiestrator, who captured the inaugural running at Santa Anita for trainer Paddy Gallagher, is expected to defend his crown and is among the 54 nominees to the race that will be decided at 1 1/8 miles.
Also to be contested at Gulfstream are the $500,000 Ocala Breeders' Sales Distaff at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares, which drew 31 nominations; the $300,000 Padua Stables Sprint for 4-year-olds and up at six furlongs that had 42 nominations; and the $250,000 Ocala Stud Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, which attracted 25 nominations.