The 1 1/8-mile event on the main track tested 11 fillies and mares, all of which were bred in either Florida or California. Ginger Punch stopped the clock in 1:49.14 under Rafael Bejarano.
Fresh off being crowned top older female at the Jan. 21 Eclipse Awards, Ginger Punch was made the overwhelming favorite at Gulfstream, sent off at odds of nearly 1-5. The 5-year-old daughter of Awesome Again did not disappoint her backers, taking over from pacesetter Peach Flambe at the top of the stretch and coasting to the wire.
Peach Flambe, ridden by Eibar Coa, gamely held on for second at odds of 42-1, while Memorette closed for third. Saffronista, at odds of 94-1, was fourth.
Trained by Bobby Frankel, Ginger Punch won for the fifth time in her last six starts, and the remarkably consistent mare has produced an 8-5-1 record from 15 career starts. She has now earned nearly $2.2 million for Frank Stronach, whose Adena Springs is also the breeder.
Prior to the Sunshine Millions, Ginger Punch, out of the Bold Revenue mare Nappelon, last raced in the Oct. 27 Emirates Airlines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I), where she won a thriller by a neck over Hystericalady.
Paul Reddam and Rockin BB Ranch’s Peach Flambe led for most of the way, breaking sharply from the inside post to set the pace. The 5-year-old Flying Chevron mare was all alone in front, setting fractions of :22.92, :46.09 and1:10.32. All the while, Ginger Punch was in stalking mode, waiting for the precise moment to reel in the leader.
Bejarano finally sent the multiple graded stakes winner loose coming out of the far turn. Ginger Punch easily moved to the outside of Peach Flambe and took over at the top of the stretch. The final furlong was nothing more than a formality, as she opened a commanding advantage and drew away.
“I tried to get in position behind the horse on the lead," Bejarano said. "I tried to put her in second. She broke slow so I had to use her a little bit to get her to go. When I came into the far turn my horse exploded.
"This horse is very special in my career. She really gives me a special feeling. I’ve ridden her so many times; Bobby doesn’t give me any instructions.”
Ginger Punch paid $2.60, $2.40, 2.10. The $2 exacta (2-1) was worth $29, and the $1 trifecta (2-1-10) returned $185.40.
“I had no anxious moments, but horses aren’t machines," Stronach said. "You always pray. You can’t take (winning) for granted. She seemed to come out of the race fine, and the jock said he never used the whip.”
Bayou's Lassie was fifth, followed by Prop Me Up, Swiss Current, Lost Etiquette, Leah's Secret, Night Power, and Exchanging Fire. Curiously Sweet was scratched.