(edited Santa Anita release)
The popular Sunshine Millions, which was designed to match the best California-bred horses versus the best bred Thoroughbreds from Florida, will return to both Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park on Jan. 30 with $1.8 million in purses at stake.
Due to a sluggish local and national economy, purses for the upcoming Millions program have been reduced, however.
Santa Anita will play host to three Sunshine Millions races this year—The Classic, for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles, the Filly and Mare Turf, for older distaffers at 1 1/8 miles and the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint, for older fillies and mares at six furlongs on the main track.
Gulfstream Park, in Hallandale, Florida, will also present three races—the Filly and Mare Distaff at 1 1/8 miles on dirt, the Turf, for older horses at 1 1/8 miles, and the Sunshine Millions Sprint for older horses at six furlongs.
The Classic will offer a purse of $500,000, down from $1 million in 2009. The Filly and Mare Turf will have a purse of $300,000, down from $500,000, and the Filly and Mare Sprint will offer horsemen a purse of $200,000, down from $300,000.
At Gulfstream, the purses for the Filly and Mare Distaff and Sunshine Millions Turf have both been reduced from $500,000 to $300,000. The Sprint now offers a purse of $200,000, down from $300,000 last year.
Inaugurated in 2003, the Sunshine Millions program has become a popular fixture on both the Southern California and Florida racing calendars, appealing to fans and horsemen alike.
"We are very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish with the Sunshine Millions both here at Santa Anita and at Gulfstream,” said Santa Anita President Ron Charles. “In a relatively short period of time, we’ve been able to grow this competition into one of the most highly anticipated events on our calendar.
“Given the current state of the economy, I think everyone understands why these purse reductions were necessary. It’s just something that we had to do at this time, and we feel these adjusted purses will remain very, very lucrative to horsemen and will thus ensure another first-class day of competitive racing for our fans across the country.”
Charles also noted that, as in years past, owners of all horses shipping across country to either venue will be compensated for expenses.