Sunday, January 25, 2009


SUNSHINE MILLIONS DOMINATED BY FLORIDA-BREDS


By BETH HARRIS - AP Racing Writer

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) _ It's a Bird rallied from the off the pace to win Saturday's $1 million Classic at Gulfstream Park, helping Florida-bred horses easily defeat their California counterparts for the seventh straight time in the bi-coastal Sunshine Millions program.

The eight races worth $3.6 million came off under drastically different conditions.


Santa Anita's weather didn't live up to the event's name. Although fog obscured the San Gabriel Mountains most of the day and rain kept the infield attendance sparse, Santa Anita’s on-track attendance reached 22,155. Skies were sunny at Gulfstream Park in Hallendale, Fla.

It's a Bird led a 1-2-3 Florida sweep in the Classic _ one of four Florida sweeps Saturday _ to win the day's richest race by 5¼ lengths.

Ridden by Julien Leparoux, It's a Bird covered 1 1-8 miles in 1:49.35 and ended a three-race losing streak for trainer Marty Wolfson. It's a Bird paid $24 to win.

``We got the perfect race,'' Leparoux said. ``We kept it nice for him and he did the rest. He got stronger as the race went on.''

Dry Martini was second and 2-1 wagering favorite Delightful Kiss was another nose back in third.

Florida breds won six of the eight races and outpointed California 56-16. Winners received five points each, second place was worth three points and third was worth one point. Florida has won the event all seven years.

Just seven of 32 Cal-breds were entered in the four races at Gulfstream, giving Florida-breds an advantage. Nineteen of 45 Florida horses were entered at Santa Anita.

At Santa Anita, Soldier's Dancer came on strong deep in the stretch to win the $500,000 Turf by a half-length. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Solider's Dancer ran 1 1-8 miles in 1:49.64 and paid $4.80 to win.

Presious Passion was second and Cal-bred Unusual Suspect was third, putting California on the toteboard for the first time Saturday.

"I really wasn't worried because he was so far back early. It's the style of the horse," Bejarano said. "He likes to come from behind like this. I always felt comfortable because I knew I had a lot of horse. He has a big, big kick."

Georgie Boy, knocked off last year's Triple Crown trail by a back injury, won the $300,000 Sprint by 2¼ lengths at Santa Anita. Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Georgie Boy was timed in 1:08.12 over six furlongs to give California its second win on the day. He paid $6.60 to win.

Florida-bred Machismo was second and Cal-bred Partywithlarryz was third. In Summation, a Grade 1 winner like Georgie Boy, faded to fifth.

``Part of the problem with this horse is that he has figured out what is going on,'' Gomez said about the winner. ``Before, he was just kind of like a high school kid who wants to play all the time. So now he's figured out he wants to run. The thing is to let him get into the huge stride of his and breathe. Now hopefully with this race behind him, he'll mellow out a little bit.''

Beltene gave California its first victory, winning the $250,000 Oaks at Santa Anita by a head under Joel Rosario, who rode his fourth winner on the card and first of the Millions program.

"This has been an unbelievable day," he said. "I thought I had a chance to win with this filly because she finishes well."

Florida-bred Hooh Why was second and Cal-bred Yodelady O was third.

Florida-bred Leah's Secret closed out the program by winning the $500,000 Distaff at Santa Anita. Ridden by Eibar Coa, Leah's Secret ran 1 1-16 miles in 1:42.58 and paid $4.60 to win for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Lady Railrider, a Cal-bred, was second and Florida-bred Unforgotten was third.

At Gulfstream, This Ones for Phil led a Florida sweep of the top three places in the $250,000 Dash. Trained by Rick Dutrow, This Ones for Phil caught the leaders at the top of the stretch and won by 2¼ lengths. He ran six furlongs in 1:09.10 and paid $25.40 to win. You Luckie Mann was second and Kelly Leak third.

Another Florida sweep occurred in the $500,000 Filly & Mare Turf. Wild Promises won by 1¾ lengths under Aaron Gryder for trainer Greg Gilchrist. They covered 1 1-8 miles on the turf in 1:47.82. Elusive Lady was second and Snow Cone third.

High Resolve led all the way in winning the $300,000 Filly & Mare Sprint by 2¼ lengths, giving the Northern California-based Gilchrist his second victory on the Millions program. Robby Albarado guided High Resolve over six furlongs in 1:10.55. Dubai Majesty was second and Lovely Isle third to complete another Florida sweep.


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