Most of the leading contenders for the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic to be run at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 24 are already stabled in South Florida for the winter season, but a few will be flying in for the rich 1 1/8 miles test, including West Point Thoroughbreds’ 4-year-old Macho Again from Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

“He’s doing fine, just needs a couple more works and we’ll be there,” said trainer Dallas Stewart Wednesday morning. A roan/gray Florida-bred colt by Macho Uno, Macho Again was a major player in the 3-year-old division last year as runner-up to Big Brown in the Preakness (G1) at Pimlico and winner of the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga.

After finishing second as the 6-to-5 favorite in the Super Derby (G2) at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 20, Macho Again got some time off before coming back in the Woodchopper Stakes at Fair Grounds on Dec. 20, his turf debut, finishing sixth of seven and apparently not taking to the surface.

“He got what he needed out of it,” said Stewart.

Macho Again will be arriving in South Florida on a Tex Sutton Forwarding charter flight on Jan. 20 that originates from Ontario Airport near Santa Anita and will stop in New Orleans before coming on to Miami, landing at Opa Locka Airport.

The probable field for the Classic appears to be coming up strong with at least 10 graded-stakes winners under consideration, led by Peter Vegso’s Go Between, who won the race last year at Santa Anita for trainer Bill Mott.

A Florida homebred by Point Given, Go Between went on to finish second in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) and Hollywood Gold Cup (G2) and won the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar. In his lone start after the Del Mar race, he finished a close-up fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, beaten 4 ½ lengths for it all by Raven’s Pass.

Go Between has been working steadily at Payson Park, most recently breezing an easy five furlongs Monday in 1:01 3/5.

Other stakes winners training in South Florida being pointed for the Sunshine Millions Classic include Hobeau Farm’s Delightful Kiss, Rolbea Thoroughbreds’ Finallymadeit, Carol Nyren’s Dry Martini, Centaur Farm’s Gottcha Gold, Bea Oxenberg’s Hey Byrn, Haras Santa Maria de Araras’ Palladio and Mount Joy Stable’s Smooth Air.



Grand Couturier Could Get Earlier Start This Season



Marc Keller’s 6-year-old turf star Grand Couturier took the winter off last year before launching a five-race campaign that yielded victories in the Sword Dancer Invitational (G1) at Saratoga and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) at Belmont Park.

Trainer Bob Ribaudo says his stable star could fire things up earlier in 2009 and might make an appearance at Gulfstream Park.

“We haven’t stopped on him this year,” said Ribaudo. “We’ve already got him back going, and he’s a good horse so it doesn’t take much to keep him going.”

While Ribaudo isn’t thinking about the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) on Feb. 1, his trainer is almost certain the campaign will start earlier than the June kickoff the English-bred son of Grand Lodge had in 2009.

“He hasn’t breezed or anything yet,” said Ribaudo. “But we’re thinking more like the ($150,000) Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2 – Feb. 21). The (turf) course looks great.”

The Mac Diarmida is run at 1 3/8 miles, a distance that suits Grand Couturier’s rallying style – a trait the horse gets from his training, according to Ribaudo.

“So far he’s just been jogging and galloping, but he does two miles every day,” he said. “He maintains good fitness and it takes little time to get him in gear.”



Lamentation a Solid Favorite in Friday Allowance Feature



Aston House Stud’s 5-year-old English-bred mare Lamentation finished third last out in the $150,000 La Prevoyante Handicap (G2) at Calder in mid-December in her second American start for trainer Christophe Clement, and comes back Friday as the horse to beat in the $42,000 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.

Jockey Rene Douglas gets a return call on Lamentation in the 1 ½ miles turf marathon, run over the same distance as the La Prevoyante when she chased highly-accomplished Graded-stakes-winning mare Herboriste and J’ray. Lamentation won one of 10 starts in Italy to begin her career before finishing fourth in the Glens Falls Handicap (G3) at Saratoga on Sept. 1 in her lone U.S. appearance prior to the La Prevoyante.

Lamentation faces six rivals in Friday’s feature, a race that should point out contenders for the $100,000 The Very One Handicap (G3) on Feb. 22 and $100,000 Orchid Handicap (G3) on Mar. 22 to be run at 11 and 12 furlongs, respectively. Clement won The Very One last year with Mauralakana with Herboriste third.

Lamentation will be the favorite Friday with Farfellow Farm’s 4-year-old Kentucky homebred Awesome Moment attracting some support with jockey Chris DeCarlo aboard for trainer Rebecca Maker. The daughter of Awesome Again will be trying a distance beyond nine furlongs for the first time in eight starts, but comes off a very good runner-up effort last out at Calder.

Completing the field are Kaleem Shah’s Sophie’s Joy, Kent Desormeaux ; St. George Stable’s Tarheel Girl, Elvis Trujillo; Stronach Stable’s Bahia Girl, Javier Castellano; Johns Martin and partners’ A Bit of Humor, J.R. Velazquez; and Greenwood Lodge Farm’s Dezba, Julien Leparoux.