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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
POPULAR SUNSHINE MILLIONS RETURNS ON SATURDAY
The Sunshine Millions, which matches California-bred horses against Florida-breds, will be presented for the eighth time next Saturday, Jan. 30, at Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park. First post time at Santa Anita is 11:30 a.m.
Inaugurated in 2003, the Sunshine Millions has become a popular and festive fixture on both the Southern California and Florida racing calendars, appealing to fans and horsemen alike.
The 2010 Sunshine Millions will be comprised of six races, three each at Santa Anita and Gulfstream.
The $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic presented by Pepsi Cola heads the program at Santa Anita, which will also host the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, and the $200,000 Filly and Mare Sprint.
An on-track crowd of 22,155 attended the 2009 Sunshine Millions at Santa Anita, producing a total mutuel handle of more than $14.3 million.
Fans attending on-track and around the nation can also participate in the 2010 debut of the popular Magna 5, which will begin on Sunshine Millions Day with the final race from Laurel Park.
The Magna 5 is a $1 minimum wager which requires players to select the winner of five races at tracks such as Laurel, Gulfstream, Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields, all in about one hour.
All fans in attendance at Santa Anita will receive free over-sized Sunshine Millions infield/beach umbrellas with paid admission, while supplies last.
The Sunshine Millions is the result of a joint effort among the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park and Magna Entertainment Corporation.
SUNSHINE MILLIONS GRASS NOT GREENER FOR THE USUAL Q.T.
Discretion is the better part of valor, the saying goes, or in the case of streaking turf specialist The Usual Q.T., Pro-Ride is the better part of shipping just to remain on grass.
That’s the reason trainer Jim Cassidy is keeping the California-bred son of Unusual Heat at Santa Anita to run in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at 1 1/8 miles on synthetic, rather than travel to Florida for the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream Park.
“The money enters into it, but the big thing is the travel,” Cassidy said. “I’ve never really traveled with him except to Hollywood Park, and he’s gotten a little aggressive about that. Eventually, we were going to try him on the dirt (synthetic), and I think this is a good opportunity.”
The longer the trip, the riskier, especially for an antsy horse like The Usual Q.T. “It depends on where you’re going,” Cassidy said, “but the New York journey is very difficult, since you have to go in the quarantine barn for six to eight hours. That’s really hard on a horse, because it leaves his environment.
“You don’t have that problem in Florida. However, if you arrive too early, it seems they get a little more jet-lagged than if they get there right on top of the race . . . They get a little wear and tear on them, shipping back and forth. Some horses can handle it better than others.”
The Usual Q.T. worked five furlongs on Pro-Ride Sunday in :59.80 under regular rider Victor Espinoza.
Probable for the Classic: The Usual Q.T., Espinoza; Acclamation, no rider; Bold Chieftain, no rider; Compari, Garrett Gomez; Unusual Suspect, Alonso Quinonez; and Palladio, Mike Smith. Bold Chieftain worked six furlongs on Pro-Ride Sunday in 1:14.60 for trainer Bill Morey Jr.
HAIL CAESAR! NEVADA-BRED WINS AT SANTA ANITA
A racing rarity occurred at Santa Anita Saturday when first-time starter The Women’s Diva won the fourth race at a $26.20 payoff under jockey Michael Baze. The chestnut filly trained by Caesar Dominguez was bred in Nevada, a state better-known for other forms of gambling rather than taking a chance on breeding a Thoroughbred race horse.
“I bought her at Barretts because I liked her conformation and her breeding,” Dominguez said. “But I’ve been training for 40 years, and this is the first Nevada-bred Thoroughbred I’ve ever had. I’ve had some Nevada-bred Quarter horses, but no Thoroughbreds.” The Women’s Diva is owned by THE Women’s Club, a group of 20 ladies formed by Caesar’s wife, Joann.
"There was a good Nevada-bred horse in the 1970s by the name of Times Rush," recalled Jon White, who makes Santa Anita’s morning line in addition to providing paddock commentary for the track's simulcast network. "He's definitely the best Nevada-bred that I've ever seen. Times Rush was good enough to win the Tanforan Handicap (at Golden Gate) and the biggest race in the Northwest, the Longacres Mile. His dam was a daughter of Triple Crown winner Count Fleet."
STATE-OF-THE-ART HANDICAPPING OFFERED AT SANTA ANITA
Tom Quigley, owner/publisher of The HorsePlayer Magazine, is providing state-of-the-art handicapping information during the Santa Anita meet.
“We are approaching 5,000 fans on Facebook, 1,200 on Santa Anita’s Twitter page and about 500 on my site,” said Quigley, who began the endeavor at Del Mar last summer.
“Specifically, as the horses walk by me in the paddock prior to each race, I send out an instant tweet message (using Twitter) informing my followers who looks best. I also provide historical data about the fluctuation of odds once I name my selection.
“And best of all, it's absolutely FREE for anyone who follows me. This is being offered at Santa Anita throughout the meet. I enjoyed great success the first three weeks at Del Mar, during which I gave out two big-priced Barry Abrams horses (Bling Star Dreams $40.40 and Unusual Suspect $51.00) as well as the $1 exacta in the San Diego Handicap in which I said to play against Well Armed. And the information is verifiable by looking at the history of my tweets: (http://twitter.com/Quigleys_Corner).”
BLIND LUCK HEADS 307 WORKERS ON PRO-RIDE SUNDAY
Eclipse Award finalist Blind Luck was one of 307 recorded workouts on Pro-Ride Sunday, the most in one day this meet over the surface.
Blind Luck worked seven furlongs in 1:25.60 under Rafael Bejarano for her 3-year-old debut in the Grade I $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes on Feb. 6. “It was a really nice workout,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. “She finished up real good, with the last eighth in 11 and three. We’re very pleased with the progress she’s making.”
FINISH LINES: Barry Abrams plans to supplement El Encino Stakes winner Pretty Unusual to the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino for $6,000. Chantal Sutherland rides. Other probables: Bootleg Annie, Garrett Gomez; Century Park, Martin Garcia; and Tight Precision, Joel Rosario. Century Park worked five furlongs Sunday in 1:00.80 for Bob Baffert . . . Probable for the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint: U R All That I Am, Mike Smith; Libor Lady, Gomez; Rate of Exchange, Rosario; and Via Venuto, Martin Garcia. U R All That I Am worked five furlongs on Pro-Ride Sunday in 1:02.80 for Jerry Hollendorfer . . . Agent Vic Stauffer batted a lusty .667 on Saturday. The two riders he represents, Rosario and Martin Garcia, won six of the nine races, Rosario taking four. One of Garcia’s two wins came aboard Kinsale King in the Grade II Palos Verdes Handicap . . . Probable for next Sunday’s Grade I $250,000 Santa Monica Handicap at seven furlongs: Czechers, Sutherland; Diamondrella, Gomez; Evita Argentina, Rosario; Free Flying Soul, no rider; Gabby’s Golden Gal, Martin Garcia; Gilded Gem, Espinoza; and Tuscan Evening, no rider. Diamondrella worked four furlongs Sunday in :49 for Gary Stevens; Czechers went five furlongs in :59.40 for Mark Glatt; Free Flying Soul went the same distance in :58.80 for Bruce Headley; Evita Argentina went six furlongs in 1:12.40 for John Sadler; and Tuscan Evening went five furlongs in :59 for Hollendorfer . . . TrackNet Media Group and the MidAtlantic Cooperative have reached an agreement Friday allowing MidAtlantic member racetracks and their betting outlets to immediately receive simulcast signals of several racetracks affiliated with TrackNet. The agreement ends a dispute and signal blackout that began last November. Signals of Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, Golden Gate Fields, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park and Laurel Park were among those that were not available this month at the 17 MidAtlantic tracks or at their off-track betting outlets and account wagering platforms. MidAtlantic tracks and outlets started taking those signals during this past Friday afternoon, said Martin Lieberman, MidAtlantic‘s executive director. Monmouth Park, Meadowlands, Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack, Delaware Park, Colonial Downs and their off-track betting outlets were among those affected by the dispute. The agreement is for one year with a one-year renewal option that is solely at the discretion of MidAtlantic. Scott Daruty, TrackNet’s chief executive officer, and Lieberman would not disclose the percentage of takeouts that either party is receiving on the again-available simulcast signals. “Both parties agreed there is nothing to be gained by releasing that information,” Lieberman said . . . Gio Ponti, runner-up to undefeated champion Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and winner of two Eclipse Awards as top older male and outstanding male turf horse, is scheduled to breeze Monday on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride. “We’ll make up our minds after that,” said trainer Christophe Clement, who is considering the Grade II $150,000 San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 7 for the consistent and versatile son of Tale of the Cat . . . Eclipse Award winner Julien Leparoux will be at Santa Anita Feb. 6 to ride Hollywood Prevue winner American Lion for Eoin Harty in the Grade II $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles . . . Santa Anita’s ice bucket giveaway, postponed last Monday, is rescheduled for Sunday, Feb. 28, to the first 5,000 THOROUGHBREDS in attendance with paid admission, while supplies last . . . Through Saturday’s races, there were 27 contestants alive in ShowVivor.