With four Grade I winners pre-entered in next Saturday’s $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita next Saturday and two set to run, the seventh running of the six-furlong race has gathered increased status.
Pre-entered are Cost of Freedom (winner of the Grade I Ancient Title Handicap), Georgie Boy (winner of the Grade I Del Mar Futurity), Johnny Eves (winner of the Grade I Malibu Stakes in 2007), and In Summation (winner of the Grade I Bing Crosby Handicap in 2007, and back-to-back winner of the El Conejo Handicap).
“It shows how relevant Sunshine Millions day has become this early in the year on the racing calendar when these kinds of horses are attracted,” said Santa Anita racing secretary Rick Hammerle. “We are obviously pleased and encouraged and hope the momentum continues.”
PERIBAN HOPES ‘PISTOL PETE’ FIRES IN SUNSHINE MILLIONS CLASSIC
Jorge Periban is rolling the dice with longshot Pistol Pete Afleet in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park, but the Southern California-based trainer has been known to light up the tote board in the past.
“He hasn’t won since I claimed him for $80,000 (in May of last year), but he’s been close, and he jumped the rail and got hurt when I claimed him,” Periban said. “He needed a couple months to recover, but he’s been doing well since.
“In his last race (seventh by 4 ½ lengths in the Grade III Sir Beaufort Stakes) he had a little trouble, but we’re going to be OK. I know he’ll be a longshot in the Classic, but that doesn’t bother me. I just need luck.”
Florida-bred Pistol Pete Afleet worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride Sunday in 1:00.40.
Probable for the Classic at 1 ¼ miles: Macho Again, Atoned, Delightful Kiss, Dry Martini, Hey Bryn and Palladio, each a Florida-bred.
Mike Machowsky hopes for better luck with Kelly Leak in the Dash at Gulfstream Park. The 3-year-old Runaway Groom colt was beaten a half-length in the Eddie Logan Stakes on Dec. 27, and lost a controversial nose in an optional claiming race at Hollywood Park last Dec. 4.
“He worked good Saturday (five furlongs in 1:00.60 on Pro-Ride),” the trainer said. “Kent Desormeaux has been calling me asking to ride him.”
Carnacks Choice (Sprint) worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride Sunday in :48.40 for Todd Pletcher, while Briecat (Distaff) went five furlongs on Santa Anita’s training track in 1:00.20 for Vladimir Cerin.
First post time Sunshine Millions Day is 11:45 a.m. Gates open at 10. All THOROUGHBREDS members in attendance will receive free the official Sunshine Millions AM/FM Beach radio with paid admission while supplies last.
TALKIN TO MOM ROO STEPS UP IN PALOS VERDES HANDICAP
Talkin to Mom Roo worked five furlongs on Pro-Ride Saturday in 1:02.40 for next Sunday’s Grade II Palos Verdes Handicap. It will be the first stakes race for the Texas-bred son of You and I.
Trainer Ted H. West admits the 6-year-old owned by one of the trainer’s principal clients, Jeffrey Sengara of Vancouver, B.C., will be entering uncharted waters in the Palos Verdes.
“It’s a big step up, but he was second last time to a horse (Gayego) that ran a fifth off the world record (1:07 2/5 for 6 ½ furlongs at Hollywood Park last Nov. 30),” West pointed out. “I think he’s talented enough to handle the jump up.”
Time for Saturday’s drill was moderate, but not out of the ordinary, according to West.
“We always go easy with him,” he said. “He’s a horse that doesn’t need a lot of training. He ran a real big race off a layoff and he had trained for the least amount of time of any horse I’ve ever run before a layoff. He’s a horse that keeps himself pretty fit all the time.”
PIONEEROF THE NILE WORKS FOR 3-YEAR-OLD DEBUT
CashCall Futurity winner Pioneerof the Nile, a leading Triple Crown contender, worked five furlongs on Pro-Ride in 1:00.20 Sunday, according to Santa Anita clockers, but trainer Bob Baffert said the son of Empire Maker actually went six furlongs in 1:13. Joe Steiner was up.
“I worked him three-quarters,” said Baffert, who is preparing the colt for his 3-year-old debut in Robert B. Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 7. “He went nice. He didn’t go fast. He went 1:13 and galloped out (seven furlongs) in 1:25 1/5.”
Added Steiner: “He went really nice, real easy.”
FREE WALLETS, $1,000 AVAILABLE TOMORROW ON MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY
Santa Anita will offer holiday racing tomorrow, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. While supplies last, all THOROUGHBREDS members will receive a free wallet which will include a free general admission pass to Sunshine Millions Day, next Saturday, Jan. 24.
Also, 10 lucky patrons will find a $100 bill inside their wallet. First post time Monday is 12:30 p.m. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. Santa Anita is dark this Tuesday and Wednesday. Racing resumes on Thursday at 1 p.m.
FINISH LINES: It was business as usual Sunday morning for Alex Solis after he guided The Pamplemousse to a front-running two-length victory over 3-5 favorite Square Eddie in Saturday’s San Rafael Stakes, an important prep on the Triple Crown trail. “Mighty impressive,” Solis said between working horses. “He did something I haven’t felt in a horse in a long time, and I’ve been very fortunate to ride some good horses. My son (Alex II) bought him and he owns part of him, so I’m very proud of him.” . . . Patrick Biancone hopes Stream Cat turns in a good performance in Monday’s Grade II San Marcos Stakes for older horses at 1 ¼ miles on turf. “I’ve only had him about six weeks, but he’s come here in good form,” Biancone said of the Kentucky-bred son of Black Minnaloushe trained by George Arnold for his last five races. Prior to that, Biancone conditioned the 6-year-old gelding . . . Hollywood Gold Cup winner Mast Track had his first breeze since coming back from Japan last November when he worked a half-mile on Pro-Ride Saturday in 47 seconds for Bobby Frankel. “He had a couple quarter cracks when he got to Japan, so he didn’t run,” said Frankel assistant Humberto Ascanio. “We had to give him a little time for his feet to heal.” . . . Doug O’Neill said easy maiden winner Pinkarella was scratched from Saturday’s Santa Ynez Stakes because “she tied up on me” a few days before the race . . . Mickey Hatcher’s hair color resembled Roy Orbison’s when the former Los Angeles Dodger player and current Los Angeles Angels’ hitting coach presented a trophy to the winning connections of San Fernando Stakes winner Nownownow yesterday. When HRTV’s Kurt Hoover interviewed him after the ceremony and asked him about the darker hue, Hatcher said, “It’s been 20 years since my last World Series, so I colored my hair.”