Caracortado takes the Sunshine Millions Turf under Joe Talamo.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Caracortado takes the Sunshine Millions Turf under Joe Talamo.
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Caracortado Shows His Turf Chops in Millions

Versatile colt outlasts The Usual Q. T. to win rich grass event at Santa Anita.

Caracortado, a grade II winner on Santa Anita's synthetic track last winter, proved equally at home on the lawn when he outlasted The Usual Q. T. to capture the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf by a half-length Jan. 29 (VIDEO).

This was the turf stakes debut for Caracortado, who was bred in California by Michael Machowsky who also trains the gelding and owns him as part of Lo Hi Racing with Donald Blahut's Blahut Racing. The 4-year-old son of Cat Dream won an optional claiming allowance at Hollywood Park in his only prior try on grass Nov. 11.

Joe Talamo drove Caracortado to victory at 3-1 odds with a stalking trip on the outside. Coming three wide around the far turn, Caracortado reached even terms with the Usual Q. T. leaving the eighth pole and gained a narrow advantage in deep stretch.

"He’s a freak on turf and has such a tremendous turn of foot," Talamo said. "He just explodes that last eighth."

Caracortado won under strong encouragement over a stubborn The Usual Q. T. The second choice in the field of eight, The Usual Q. T. fought back hard along the inside for Victor Espinoza all the way to the wire but could not outfinish a game Caracortado.

"The great thing about him is he’s run on every surface so far," Machowsky said. "Right now, percentages would point to staying on the turf, but he’s so versatile I’m just going to play out my options."

Asked about Caracortado's next start, Machowsky said, “Right now, March 5 will be the date; whether it’s the Kilroe Mile (gr. IT on turf) or the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I at 1 ¼ miles on the main track), we’ll just wait and see how it all plays out. At the level he’s at now, every race is going to be a tough, tough race, but I want to make it as easy as possible on him. He’s a gelding and I want him racing with us a long time.”

The winning time was 1:46.75 for the 1 1/8-mile distance on firm ground.

It was 1 3/4 lengths to the late-running Soul Candy and Garrett Gomez in third as Cal-breds swept the top three spots over their Florida rivals. They were followed by 7-5 favorite Jeranimo , pacesetter Presious Passion, Mobiized, No Inflation, and Pickapocket.

After veering out at the start, Presious Passion carved fractions of :23.59, :47.02, and 1:10.81 while building a five-length lead. But the multiple grade I-winning lifetime earner of more than $2.6 million was overpowered in upper stretch by The Usual Q. T., who was in the clear briefly.

Rags-to-riches Caracortado, after winning all four of his starts as a 2-year-old, was a popular contender on California's Triple Crown trail last year. He captured the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) in February before finishing third in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) and fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).

In his only Triple Crown appearance, he ran seventh in the Preakness (gr. I) before going to the sidelines for six months. He returned with his win on the Hollywood Park turf Nov. 11.

The victory in the Millions Turf was worth $165,000, which expanded Caracortado's overall earnings to $491,520. He has now won seven of 11 starts.

Caracortado is out of the Maria's Mon mare Mons Venus.

Sent off as the third choice, the winning chestnut carried 120 pounds and paid $8.20, $3.80, and $2.80 and topped a $27.20 exacta. The Usual Q. T., second to Jeranimo in the San Gabriel Stakes (gr. IIT) last time for trainer James Cassidy, returned $3.40 and $2.80. Should Candy paid $4.40 to show.