Magna Entertainment president Jim McAlpine.

Magna Entertainment president Jim McAlpine.

File photo

Magna Plans $5-Million 'Sunshine Millions'

An eight-race, $5 million series of races for California- and Florida-bred horses has been approved by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, the California Thoroughbred Breeders' Association and Magna Entertainment Corp., at whose tracks the races would be run. The plan, however, may face a challenge from the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

Called the Sunshine Millions, MEC is proposing four races at both Gulfstream Park in Florida and Santa Anita Park in California on Jan. 25, 2003. The four races at Gulfstream will be for fillies and mares while Santa Anita will host the colt and gelding divisions. Half of the starting fields for each race will be limited to Florida- breds and the other half to California-breds. Three of the races at each location--sprints for 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/16-mile turf races for 4-year-olds and up and 1 1/8-mile dirt races for 4-year-olds and up--will carry purses of $500,000 each, while a pair of 1 1/16-mile races restricted to 3-year-olds will be worth $1 million each.

Funding for the event would come from Magna and the state-bred organizations.

"This is really going to elevate the worth and demand of quality California and Florida breds," said CTBA executive vice president Doug Burge. "We hope in the future we can grow this to where the purses will be even more than $5 million."

Still, the Sunshine Millions must be approved by the FHBPA, whose president Linda Mills feels left out. "No one from Gulfstream or Magna has contacted us," she said, adding that a significant increase in stakes funding might violate a contractual clause that calls for a maximum of 28% of purses to be paid in stakes. "It might mean that our whole we of doing business with Gulfstream would have to be restructured."