(Edited Santa Anita release)
A total of 126 horses were pre-entered for the Sunshine Millions, which will be run Jan. 24 at Santa Anita Park and Gulfstream Park, both owned by Magna Entertainment. The eight races feature Florida-breds against California-breds, with purses of $3.6 million.
The $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at six furlongs for 4-year-olds and up figures to highlight the day’s racing at Santa Anita as four grade I winners, three of them California-bred, were among 18 horses pre-entered. Santa Anita will also host the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff, for fillies and mares aged 4 and up at 1 1/16 miles; the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles; and the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs.
"The Sprint looks like it should be a terrific race and overall, we’re happy with the way our races here are shaping up," said Santa Anita racing secretary Rick Hammerle. "With four grade I winners pre-entered, the Sprint should be a tremendous race and it looks like California should be very well represented."
Georgie Boy, a 4-year-old gelding by Tribal Rule , heads the grade I contingent in the Sprint. Trained by veteran Kathy Walsh, Georgie Boy won the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) in September 2007, and he comes off a solid third-place finish in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Dec. 26. Georgie Boy has a 9-4-2-2 record and $533,634 in earnings. He was bred and is owned by George Schwary.
Cost of Freedom, who was claimed for $50,000 three starts back on July 28, comes off a career-best effort in winning Oak Tree’s Ancient Title Stakes (gr. I) Sept. 27. Owned by Gary and Cecil Barber, he is conditioned by John Sadler.
The third California-bred grade I winner in the Sprint field is the 5-year-old gelding Johnny Eves, by Skimming. A winner of the Malibu in December 2007, Johnny Eves is owned by Mooncoin and is trained by Jay Robbins. A winner two starts back of the grade III Vernon O. Underwood Stakes Nov. 22 at Hollywood Park, Johnny Eves was eased, beaten 17 ¼ lengths in the grade III El Conejo Handicap at 5 ½ furlongs Jan. 1.
The El Conejo, run Jan. 1, was won for the second consecutive year by millionaire In Summation , a 6-year-old Florida-bred horse who won the grade I Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar in July 2007. The son of Put It Back should vie for favoritism and is trained by Christophe Clement and owned by Waterford Farm.
A total of 20 fillies and mares, 12 California-bred and eight Florida-bred, were pre-entered for the Distaff. The highly regarded Leah’s Secret would appear to head the Florida contingent and could be the horse to beat. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 6-year-old mare by Tiger Ridge comes off a pair of impressive wins in grade II company. Leah’s Secret is owned by WinStar Farm.
Also in the Distaff, trainer Barry Abrams is hoping to "have ‘em surrounded" with two daughters of the red-hot sire Unusual Heat--Lethal Heat and Spenditallbaby. Lethal Heat, owned in part by Abrams and Madeline Auerbach, comes off a troubled third-place finish in the grade III Monrovia Handicap Jan. 3. Spenditallbaby, owned by Mark Fiorito and Peggy Roberts, comes off a second-place finish in the California-bred Cat’s Cradle Handicap at Hollywood Park Dec. 20.
The Sunshine Millions Turf attracted 17 pre-entries, nine California-breds and eight Florida-breds. The California-bred Mr. Chairman, winner of the California Cup Classic Oct. 5, and fifth, beaten three lengths in the grade I Hollywood Turf Cup Dec. 6, would appear to rate a big chance for trainer Doug O’Neill. The 6-year-old gelding by Unusual Heat is owned by Great Friends Stable.
Icy Atlantic, an 8-year-old Florida-bred horse, would be competing in his fifth Sunshine Millions. With $990,050 in earnings, a fifth-place finish would put the son of Stormy Atlantic over the $1 million mark. Icy Atlantic is trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by James Scatuorchio.
The Sunshine Millions Oaks attracted 13 pre-entries, seven California-bred and six Florida-bred. The Bob Baffert trained Ten Churros is the most accomplished of the California-breds, with a 7-2-1-2 record and $137,567 in earnings. The daughter of High Brite is owned by Patti and Hal Earnhardt.
Among the Florida-breds, the Martin Wolfson conditioned Frolic’s Dream has the best resume, with three wins from four starts. Two of her wins came in stakes, at Calder Race Course Oct. 18 and Nov. 8. In her most recent start, she tasted defeat for the first time when third, beaten a head in the six furlong, grade III Old Hat, at Gulfstream Jan. 4. Frolic’s Dream is owned by Dare to Dream Farm.
The $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic, the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf, the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint and the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash will be run at Gulfstream Park.
First post time at Santa Anita on Sunshine Millions Day is 11:45 a.m.