Herman Heinlein’s 6-year-old Soldier's Dancer and Paul Pompa Jr. and partners’ 4-year-old This Ones for Phil won Sunshine Millions races last year and the two Florida-bred geldings are back to try to pick up two more victories in 2010.
Soldier’s Dancer bids for a repeat victory in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf, a race he won last year at Santa Anita. This Ones for Phil won the Dash for 3-year-olds over the Gulfstream Park main track and returns for the $200,000 Sprint for older horses this time around. Both Jan. 30 races are at Gulfstream, two of three Sunshine Millions events in South Florida. There are also three Millions races the same day at Santa Anita Park, including the $500,000 Classic.
Though the Sunshine Millions was created to pit California-breds against Florida-breds, only one horse of the 27 entered (Tie Rod in the Millions Turf) in the three Gulfstream stakes was bred in California. By contrast, there are 17 Florida breds among the 32 entrants in the three Santa Anita stakes.
Soldier’s Dancer shipped out of South Florida to win the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita a year ago, rallying from last of 13 to score a dramatic half-length victory over fellow traveler Presious Passion, and will likely be the favorite to repeat in the 1 1/8-mile event with regular rider Manoel Cruz aboard for veteran trainer Dave Vivian. A field of 11 was entered.
The roan/gray son of Lost Soldier comes in hot, having scored a repeat victory in the $250,000 President’s Cup at Philadelphia Park in September and capturing the $150,000 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup at Calder on Nov. 14. The gelding, who also has three graded stakes wins to his credit, sports a stellar record of 12-8-4 from 32 starts and a bankroll of more than $1.5 million. He was bred by Franks Farm and is out of the Gate Dancer mare Heather’s Dancer.
Trainer Marty Wolfson won a memorable edition of the Turf at Gulfstream in 2006 with Miesque’s Approval as a 48-1 longshot. The trainer will send out a pair in the 2010 renewal with Julien Leparoux to ride Farnsworth Farm’s Jet Propulsion and Kent Desormeaux picking up the mount on Martin Cherry’s Pickapocket.
Jet Propulsion, a 7-year-old gelding by Double Honor, makes his first start for Wolfson after being claimed for $50,000 out of a winning race at Calder on Dec. 12 when using his early speed to go wire-to-wire. He will be a threat again if left alone to dictate the pace again.
Pickapocket, a 6-year-old gelding by Mecke, was run down late to finish second to Soldier’s Dancer in the Bonnie Heath Turf when beaten only a half-length. He finished an even fifth last out in a one-mile allowance tune-up over the Gulfstream course on Jan. 3, beaten 4 1/4 lengths with some trouble in the race.
Also a threat will be JoAnn and Alex Lieblong’s 4-year-old Duke of Mischief with Eibar Coa in the saddle for trainer David Fawkes. He comes in after winning the off the turf Ft. Lauderdale Stakes on Jan. 10 over Kiss the Kid and Mambo Meister. Duke of Mischief is a chestnut colt by Graeme Hall and scored his biggest victory in the Iowa Derby last year after showing respectable turf form last winter.
Post time for the Turf is slated for 5:43 p.m. EST.
John R. Velezquez rides This Ones for Phil in the Sprint as he makes his first start since winning an allowance race at Laurel Park by more than three lengths on Nov. 28 in his first start off a nearly six-month layoff. The Florida-bred son of Untuttable won the Millions Dash last January in 1:09.10 in his first start for his current connections after being developed at Calder as a 2-year-old and sold privately.
This Ones for Phil ran another big race to finish second by a half-length behind Big Drama in the Swale Stakes (gr. II) in track record time in his next start and was placed first to first on a disqualification. Another runner-up effort in the Withers Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct and a fifth-place try in the Woody Stephens (gr. II) at Belmont Park on June 6 followed before he went to the sidelines. Rick Dutrow Jr. trains the chestnut, who is 5-2-1 from 14 starts.
The best chance for shippers may come from Gary and Cecil Barber’s 6-year-old gelding Machismo, invading from California for trainer John Sadler.
Jockey Manoel Cruz picks up the mount on Machismo, who makes his first start since posting an allowance victory at Hollywood Park on Dec. 31. The son of Trippi finished second behind Georgie Boy in the Millions Sprint run at Santa Anita last year and finished eighth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen Stakes (UAE-I) in late March before going to the sidelines for eight months.
Bred in Florida by Harold Plumley, Machismo is winless in 10 stakes starts, but has hit the board four times.
Based on current form, the horse to beat in the Sprint may be Tuna Stable and Off the Hook’s 4-year-old Pashito the Che with regular rider Eibar Coa to ride for trainer Scott Lake. The Flatter colt shows six wins and four seconds in his last 10 starts, most recently losing a nose decision when runner-up in the Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct on Dec. 26.
Prior to the Gravesend, Pashito the Che had posted three straight stakes victories – the Commemorate at Belmont in late September, Gallant Bob Handicap at Philadelphia Park in October, and Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap at Calder on Nov. 14. He made the first three starts of his career at Gulfstream—all defeats.
$200,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint (Race 8, 4:43 p.m.), 4 & Up, 6 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Machismo (FL), M R Cruz, 122, J W Sadler
2. Sneaking Uponyou (FL), E Trujillo, 121, J Ness
3. Accredit (FL), J R Leparoux, 122, M J Maker
4. Pashito the Che (FL), E Coa, 121, S A Lake
5. Drift King (FL), J Bravo, 122, W H Turner Jr.
6. This Ones for Phil (FL), J R Velazquez, 121, R E Dutrow, Jr.
7. Rockerfeller (FL), I Karlsson, 122, K E Hoffman
$300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf (Race 10, 5:43 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Picou (FL), J Castellano, 122, C C Brown
2. Tie Rod (CA), D P Vergara, 122, W M Catalano
3. Duke of Mischief (FL), E Coa, 120, D Fawkes
4. Bad Action (FL), J R Velazquez, 120, T A Pletcher
5. Ballonenostrikes (FL), J Rose, 122, D J Manning
6. Roman Tiger (FL), C H Marquez Jr., 122 D J Manning
7. Fearless Eagle (FL), P Lopez, 122, E Plesa, Jr.
8. Soldier's Dancer (FL), M R Cruz, 122, D A Vivian
9. Wicked Style (FL), R Bejarano, 122, G R Arnold, II
10. Pickapocket (FL), K J Desormeaux, 122, M D Wolfson
11. Jet Propulsion (FL), J R Leparoux, 122, M D Wolfson