Although the Sunshine Millions races feature horses bred in Florida and California, the likely favorite for Gulfstream's $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks will be shipping in from Louisiana’s Fair Grounds with jockey Shaun Bridgmohan along to ride for trainer Steve Asmussen Jan. 26.
Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Florida homebred Blitzing last romped to a 7 ½-length victory in the six-furlong Letellier Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds Dec. 22 after winning an allowance event over the same distance at Churchill Downs Oct. 28. The 3-year-old Montbrook filly turned in her only disappointing finish in the Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga last year, when she bounced off a close-up third in the Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III) to finish sixth. Prior to that effort, Blitzing broke her maiden by two lengths June 17 of last year at Churchill Downs.
Also one to watch is Klaravich Stable and William Lawrence’s Phantom Income, making her first start since an unfortunate run in the 1 1/16-mile Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), when she faded to last of 13 starters. Trainer Rick Violette blamed the extremely sloppy track at Monmouth Park for that result. Another Montbrook filly, bred in Florida by Centaur Farms, she was the 4¼-length winner of the six-furlong NATC Futurity for fillies in her previous start.
Trying dirt for the first time and shortening back to six furlongs after a second-place finish in the seven-furlong Moccasin Stakes over the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park Nov. 11, the John Sadler-trained Sindy Jacobson looks to return to her winning ways in the Oaks. Owned by Team Valor International and Gary Barber, the More Than Ready filly was previously undefeated, the definitive winner in her maiden debut at Del Mar Aug. 31 and in a 6 ½-furlong starter allowance at Santa Anita Sept. 30 last year. She was bred in Florida by New Dawn Stud.
Stepping back into black type company after an interlude in the allowance ranks, Mike Tarp’s American County comes off a handy 5 ½-length win in a Nov. 24 six-furlong event at Churchill. Never worse than fourth in nine career starts for trainer Dale Romans, the daughter of Gibson County was bred in Florida by North Star Equine. She finished third and fourth in her respective stakes attempts, the Debutante (gr. III) and Sorrento Stakes (gr. III) in the summer of last year. She was second in two allowance attempts, including the Oct. 28 event behind Blitzing, before gaining her recent victory.
An intriguing addition to the field is the lightly-raced Validain, a Kafwain filly bred in Florida by Brylynn Farm. Owned by Circle C Group Stables and trained by Rebecca Maker, Validain comes off her maiden victory at Calder Dec. 23, when she won a six furlong event by 4 ½-lengths. She was second, beaten two lengths, in her career debut Nov. 1 at Churchill.
Completing the field are Jose Pinchin’s Banga Ridge, Dan and Steve Bell’s Yogi’ssplashofgold, Bill Roberts’ Billie Bob, Patricia Harrington’s Lovehi, Lone Stable’s Cape Cod Lady, and Robbies and Emmas Racing Stable’s Robbie’s Gal.
Part of the annual eight-race competition pitting top California-breds against horses bred in Florida, the Sunshine Millions takes place simultaniously at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla.,, and Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, Calif.
$250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks, race 8, approximate post 4:35 p.m., six furlongs for 3-year-old fillies*, dirt
*All runners assigned 120 pounds
PP, Horse, Jockey
1. American County (FL), Edgar Prado
2. Banga Ridge (FL), Elvis Trujillo
3. Sindy Jacobson (FL), Javier Castellano
4. Yogi'ssplashofgold (CA), Jose Lezcano
5. Blitzing (FL), Shaun Bridgmohan
6. Billie Bob (CA), John Velazquez
7. Validain (FL), Kent Desormeaux
8. Phantom Income (FL), Eibar Coa
9. Lovehi (CA), Rafael Bejarano
10. Cape Cod Lady (FL), Eduardo Nunez
11. Robbie's Gal (FL), Jorge Chavez