Trainer David Fawkes is one of seven horsemen on both coasts that have big decisions to make in the days ahead with horses pre-entered in both the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf to be run at Gulfstream Park and the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at Santa Anita on Jan. 30.
Fawkes sent out 4-year-old Duke of Mischief to win the $100,000 Fort Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 10 by a neck after the one-mile test was forced off turf and run on a ‘good’ track in his first start since finishing seventh in the Oct. 11 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park.
The Florida-bred chestnut son of Graeme Hall is owned by a partnership that includes Alex and Jo Ann Lieblong, breeder Marilyn McMaster, and Fawkes. He scored his biggest victory winning the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows by five lengths in late June and finished fifth behind Rachel Alexandra in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I)) at Monmouth Park in early August.
“There are weather considerations for both races,” said Fawkes. “He’s pretty versatile, but we’ll be looking at who goes in which race, although everybody will keep their options open as long as possible. I guess the best case scenario would be if the race here were forced off turf. (Eibar) Coa will ride him if he runs here and (Jose) Lezcano will be at Santa Anita that day and ride him if we go that way.”
Final entries and post positions for the six races will be drawn on Jan. 24. The $300,000 Turf attracted an overflow field of 19 pre-entered with only 12 allowed to start, while 14 were pre-entered in the $500,000 Classic, also with 12 allowed to start.
The other two Sunshine Millions races to be run at Gulfstream are the $300,000 Distaff with 11 fillies and mares pre-entered and $200,000 Sprint that drew 17 with only 14 allowed to start.
In addition to the Classic at Santa Anita, the $300,000 Filly & Mare Turf drew a field of 10, including three based in South Florida—Glen Hill Farm’s Closeout and E.J. Sukley’s Tight Precision for trainer Tom Proctor, and Haras de Santa Maria de Araras’ Scolara for Bill Mott.
The $200,000 Filly & Mare Sprint drew an overflow 17 entries, including two from South Florida.