Lucky Primo won the 2012 California Cup Classic.

Lucky Primo won the 2012 California Cup Classic.

Benoit Photo

Cal Cup, Sunshine Millions to Combine in 2014

Official hoping calendar change will boost fortunes for state-bred racing program.

During a time of year when tracks across the country are featuring their state-bred stars, California Cup, a fixture on the fall racing calendar at Santa Anita Park since it was established in 1990, will not be contested this season.

Instead, Cal Cup will be combined with the Sunshine Millions program this winter and will be run Jan. 25 at Santa Anita, said Doug Burge, executive director of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

"Part of the reason is that we felt we needed to get Cal Cup out of the fall," Burge said. "If you look at the results (handle and attendance) in recent years, Cal Cup has struggled, and it has really struggled in years in which Santa Anita is hosting the Breeders' Cup."

California-breds, through the CTBA's Golden State series, will be on display during the Breeder's Cup World Championships Nov. 1 with a pair of stakes on the undercard, the Golden State Juvenile and Golden State Juvenile Fillies. Each is worth $200,000 and will be contested at one mile.

"It's going to be great exposure for us and great for the Breeders' Cup," Burge said. "They will be full fields and good betting races."

The Sunshine Millions/California Cup Day in 2014 will consist of seven state-bred stakes worth nearly $1.2 million, as well as a couple of graded stakes. The Cal Cup Classic purse was boosted $75,000 and will be worth $250,000. It will be contested on dirt at 1 1/8 miles. The prior juvenile stakes for 2-year-olds will now be the Cal Cup Derby and Cal Cup Oaks, each worth $250,000 at 1 1/16 miles, Burge said.

The other races are the $125,000 Cal Cup Distaff on the hillside turf course at about 6 1/2 furlongs, the $100,000 Cal Cup Sprint at six furlongs, the $100,000 Crystal Water for older horses at one mile on turf, and the $100,000 Valentine Dancer for older fillies and mares also at one mile on turf.

"We see this as a way to revitalize it," Burge said of California Cup.

The Sunshine Millions, originally designed as a competition between horses bred in Florida and California, changed in nature over the past couple of years, with the two states competing on separate days in races limited to their own. Last year, Santa Anita held four Cal-bred races, including the Crystal Water and Valentine Dancer, as well as the $250,000 Santa Monica (gr. II) and the $100,000 Santa Ysabel (gr. III) stakes.