Presious Passion won the Dec. 15 William McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder Race Course at odds of 67-1.

Presious Passion won the Dec. 15 William McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder Race Course at odds of 67-1.

Jim Lisa

Millions Turf Looks To Be Wide Open

Presious Passion and Icy Atlantic are two of the top contenders in the Jan. 26 event.

Patricia Generazio’s Presious Passion drew post 12 in a wide-open $500,000 Sunshine Millions OBS Turf Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park.

The 1 1/8 mile Turf, won last year by Lava Man, is Race 10 on the card and is one of eight Sunshine Millions events at Gulfstream and Santa Anita Park. The 6th annual Sunshine Millions is open to both California and Florida-breds.

Of the 12 older Turf entrants, only Presious Passion, Icy Atlantic, Birdbirdistheword, Soldier’s Dancer and Lucky J.H. have won a graded stakes event in their careers. Of those, Presious Passion is the only one coming off a victory in his most recent effort. It came Dec. 15 in the William McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder Race Course, a 1 ¼-length score at odds of 67-1 under Elvis Trujillo.

Presious Passion also came from off the pace to win the Sept. 21 Cliff Hanger Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Meadowlands. It was part of his successful 2007 campaign, which saw him go 3-2-0 from 11 starts.

A 5-year-old son of Royal Anthem, out of Marquetry mare Princesa's Passion, the Florida-bred Presious Passion is trained by Mary Hartmann. The veteran conditioner, based out of Monmouth Park, says Presious Passion, who has six wins in 23 lifetime starts, is the best horse she has ever had.

“He’s going into this race super and things have worked out well for us,” Hartmann said. “He broke his maiden and won an allowance here as a 3-year-old. People can only see what he did here last year (fourth in two allowance races), but I didn’t have him fully cranked the way he is this year.”

Icy Atlantic is the most high profile entrant. Owned by James Scatuorchio and trained by Todd Pletcher, the 7-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic has been a consistent graded stakes contender throughout his career, which has produced a 7-10-2- record from 38 starts.

Icy Atlantic has competed in this event in each of the last three years. He was fifth in 2005, third in 2006 and second, two lengths behind Lava Man, last year. He won three races in 2007, including the April 7 Arcadia Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita and the Sept. 1 Red Bank Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth Park, both by closing late. Most recently, Icy Atlantic was ninth in the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I).

Birdbirdistheword had a disappointing 3-year-old campaign for Raymond Cottrell Sr., going winless in four starts without hitting the board. The son of Pure Prizewas highly-touted after winning the Harrah’s Juvenile at Louisiana Downs and the $1-million Delta Downs Jackpot as a 2-year-old.

“He’s doing very well and had some significant time off with this race in mind,” trainer Ken McPeek said of Birdbirdistheword’s break, which lasted from May until a sixth-place run in Pete Axthelm Stakes at Calder Dec. 29. “This is a restricted race with a lot of money on the table and he’s doing well enough to try, but he still has something to prove as an older horse. If he gets it done Saturday, we’ll go from there, but if not we’ll take a step back and take a more conservative route.”

Javier Castellano will ride and break from post five.

Trainer Bill Mott will send out a pair of starters, War Monger and Pickapocket. War Monger figures to have the better chance of the two, as 4-year-old War Chant colt has three wins in six lifetime starts, including his most recent effort, a 1 ½-length score in the Oct. 24 Rutgers Stakes on the Monmouth turf. War Monger will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux.

$500,000 Sunshine Millions OBS Turf (Race 10, 5:32 p.m.), Four-Year-Olds and Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. War Monger (FL), 120, Kent J. Desormeaux
2. Pickapocket (FL), 120, Shaun Bridgmohan
3. French Vintage (FL), 120, Joe Bravo
4. Add Heat (CA), 122, Eibar Coa
5. Birdbirdistheword (FL), 120, Javier Castellano
6. Icy Atlantic (FL), 122, John R. Velazquez
7. Soldier's Dancer (FL), 120, Rene R. Douglas
8. Lucky J. H. (CA), 122, Aaron T. Gryder
9. Ruff and Ready (FL), 122, Jose Lezcano
10. Epic Power (CA), 122, Rafael Bejarano
11. Summer Book (FL), 122, Edgar S. Prado
12. Presious Passion (FL), 122, Elvis Trujillo