House Party Headed to Sunshine Millions

Edited from track notes

By overcoming a slow start in last Sunday's First Lady Handicap (gr. III), House Party showed trainer Allen Jerkens enough to convince him to point the 4-year-old filly into the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Ocala Breeders' Sales Distaff Jan. 24.

Bred and owned by Joseph Shields, House Party has made her name in sprint races including a victory in the Prioress Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park last summer. Jerkens was counting on a strong finish from the Florida-bred to help decide if he should wheel her back for the 1 1/16 mile showpiece on the Gulfstream portion of the Sunshine Millions program.

"She had so much to overcome in that last race," said Jerkens referring to House Party's runner-up effort Sunday behind the now two-time First Lady-winner Harmony Lodge. "She came out of it none the worse for wear. It's worth a try for all that money."

House Party, a daughter of French Deputy, has raced farther than seven furlongs just once in her career, finishing fourth in the mile Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont last June.

Jerkens also decided not to send Puzzlement out to Santa Anita for the $1,000,000 Sunshine Millions Barretts/CTBA Classic and will instead point the Hal's Hope Handicap-winner toward the Donn Handicap (gr. I) on Feb. 7.

Proud Man Seeks Sunshine Millions Turf Tally
Trainer Christophe Clement is cautiously optimistic about Proud Man's chances as he prepares for the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Franks Farms Turf at 1 1/8 miles.

The 6-year-old multiple stakes winner exits a third-place finish in the Appleton Handicap (gr. IIT), and despite the loss, Clement sees several reasons to remain positive about the effort.

"He ran very well and finished a good third in a race with no pace," said Clement about Proud Man's finish behind Millennium Dragon's wire-to-wire victory in the Appleton. "This race has very much been a target. We'll breeze him in a few days and we're very much looking forward to running."

Proud Man has won stakes on the Gulfstream turf course, and like most of the Florida-breds pointing toward the race, might expect some edge racing against cross-country shippers on a home course. For Clement, though, the home course advantage isn't necessarily a factor.

"This is a very competitive race," said Clement, who only recently took over training the son of Manlove for owner Robert Kaufman. "He won his races here for other people. For me, all I know is he finished third on this course. He is a very nice horse, but this race will be very competitive. I don't think I will have a very big advantage."

While Proud Man remains on schedule for the Turf, Clement has not made a decision on fellow nominee Sir Brian's Sword, saying he may instead head toward the $100,000 Mac Diarmida Handicap (gr. IIIT) at 1 3/8 miles on the turf on Jan. 25.