Sunshine Millions Attracts 144 Pre-Entries

Edited from press release
The Sunshine Millions, matching California-breds against Florida-breds, will be renewed Saturday, Jan. 29 with eight races worth a combined $3.6 million.

The event will be contested at Santa Anita Park, in Arcadia, California, and at Gulfstream Park, in Hallendale, Florida.

A total of 144 horses -- including several major stakes winners -- were pre-entered Wednesday for the third annual event which features four races at each of the two tracks. The event will be televised nationally on NBC from 1-3 p.m. (PST).

The 144 pre-entries represent an increase of more than 10% from the 130 entered in 2004, and an average field size of 18 horses per race. Stakes earnings will determine the day's starters.

The Sunshine Millions is the creation of Frank Stronach, whose Magna Entertainment Corp. owns both Gulfstream and Santa Anita. Florida and California rank second and third, respectively, behind Kentucky among states in the size of annual foal crops.

"This event has really taken off in its third year," said Doug Burge, executive vice president and general manager of the California Thoroughbred Breeders' Association. "The overall nominations were up significantly over last year and just looking at the quality of the pre-entries I think the races should be very competitive. From the Cal-bred standpoint, I think it's the best group overall we've put out there."

This year, Santa Anita will host the $500,000 Warren's Thoroughbreds Turf; the $500,000 Barretts/CTBA Distaff; the $300,000 Vinery Farms Sprint, and the $250,000 Pepsi Oaks.

Gulfstream will offer the $1 million Ocala Breeders' Sales Company Classic; the $500,000 Cloverleaf Farms Filly & Mare Turf; the $300,000 Padua Stables Filly & Mare Sprint; and the $250,000 Ocala Stud Dash.

Pre-entries from Florida and California were almost even this year, with 74 Florida-breds entered and 70 California-breds. The Turf and the Sprint were most appealing, drawing 23 entries each, followed by the Classic with 21.

"One of the major objectives of the Sunshine Millions from the beginning was to further increase the value for Cal-breds," Burge said. "Adding this to our $20 million restricted stakes schedule has really helped. The Sunshine Millions is definitely on the radar screen with most of the horsemen in California."

The Classic's most notable entries include the Florida-bred Midas Eyes, winner of the Forego Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga last September; Florida-bred Supah Blitz, who captured the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) last September; and unsung California-bred Cozy Guy, who registered a 20-1 upset in last year's Cal Cup Classic.

The fields will be limited to 14 starters in sprints and 12 in routes.

The pre-entry list:

At Santa Anita: Turf, 12 Cal-breds, 12 Florida-breds; Distaff, eight Cal-breds, five Florida-breds; Sprint, 16 Cal-breds, seven Florida-breds; and Oaks, 11 Cal-breds, seven Florida-breds.

At Gulfstream: Classic, seven Cal-breds, 13 Florida-breds; Filly & Mare Turf, five Cal-breds, 12 Florida-breds; Filly & Mare Sprint, five Cal-breds, six Florida-breds; and Dash, six Cal-breds, 12 Florida-breds.