SMITH HOPES FOR MACHISMO BREATHER IN SUNSHINE MILLIONS SPRINT

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith expects another solid performance from Machismo in Saturday’s $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint. The consistent Florida-bred was second to multiple graded stakes winner In Summation in the Grade III El Conejo Handicap on Jan. 1, and has a 5-6-3 record from 26 starts overall, with earnings of $158,730.

Machismo also is entered in Sunday’s Grade II Palos Verdes Handicap.

Smith, who rode Machismo for the first time in the El Conejo, envisions a big race from the 5-year-old gelding owned by Gary and Cecil Barber and trained by John Sadler.

“It was no disgrace running second to In Summation, but my horse never got a breather that day,” Smith recalled. “They were on top of him the whole way. Hopefully, he’ll get a more favorable pace scenario on Saturday.

“He showed a lot of guts last time. He never gave up. As a matter of fact, he got passed for second and came back and got second. I take that as a good sign.”

According to the dictionary, the son of Trippi is aptly named. Webster defines “machismo” as “an exaggerated sense of masculinity stressing aggressiveness, virility, and courage.”

The field for the Sprint: Big Bad Leroybrown, Joe Talamo; Carnacks Choice, Eibar Coa; Machismo, Mike Smith; Partywithlarryz, Tyler Baze; Sok Sok, Shaun Bridgmohan; Cape Hatchet, Michael Baze; Georgie Boy, Garrett Gomez; Devoted Magic, Joel Rosario; In Summation, Rafael Bejarano; Dancing In Silks, Victor Espinoza; and Yesbyjimminy, Elvis Trujillo.



MELLOW EPIC POWER HAS HOMECOURT EDGE FOR SUNSHINE MILLIONS TURF

Jack Carava is counting on the home court advantage for Epic Power when the veteran campaigner runs in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf Saturday at Santa Anita.

Epic Power will be making his 64th start, and the 8-year-old California-bred gelding has proved to be a model of consistency. He has 13 wins, 13 seconds and 13 thirds, with earnings of $756,333. The son of Epic Honor faded to 10th in a field of 11 in last year’s Sunshine Millions Turf at 18-1, but Carava is inclined to draw a line through that race, which was run at Gulfstream Park and won by graded stakes winner War Monger.

“He was way overmatched,” said the 42-year-old trainer, who conditions Epic Power for the La Caňada Stables of Ron Valenta. “But he’s a good horse with good conformation who’s been easy on himself through the years. That’s one reason he’s been around so long.

“The only reason we’re trying this race again is it’s his home course, and he’s tough on this course. He’s like 12 out of 17 on the board and tries hard every time.”

Epic Power has been claimed several times in his career, twice by Carava.

“I lost him for one race,” Carava said. “I claimed him once, lost him once, and claimed him back (for $40,000 on Feb. 12, 2006). He’s a cool horse and very nice to be around. He makes it easy on everybody.”

The field for the Turf: Jack’s Wild, Joel Rosario; Epic Power, Corey Nakatani; Presious Passion, Elvis Trujillo; Swift Winds, Alonso Quinonez; Liberian Freighter, David Flores; Victory Pete, Mike Smith; Icy Atlantic, Eibar Coa; Soldier’s Dancer, Rafael Bejarano; Pistol Pete Afleet, Jesus Rios; Lucky J.H., Victor Espinoza; Unusual Suspect, Joe Talamo; Mr. Chairman, Michael Baze; Seminole Native, Jose Valdivia Jr.; and Screen to Screen, Garrett Gomez.



In other Sunshine Millions news:

Carava also has the undefeated Beltene entered in the $250,000 Oaks. The California-bred daughter of Unusual Heat, also owned by La Caňada Stables, won an allowance race by two lengths after breaking her maiden for a $40,000 tag.

“She acted like she could run a little bit from the start,” Carava said. “She’s been pretty competitive in the spots that she’s been in. She showed a little run the last couple times I breezed her before I ran her and I thought for maiden 40 she’d be OK. The way she won the maiden 40, I definitely thought she’d be OK in the starter (allowance).”

First post time Sunshine Millions Day is 11:45 a.m. Gates open at 10 a.m. All THOROUGHBREDS members in attendance will receive free the official Sunshine Millions AM/FM Beach radio with paid admission while supplies last.

Saturday marks the grand opening of Lucky B’s hot dog stand in the Tower Concession stand adjacent to the East Paddock Gardens, featuring four kinds of delicious hot dogs and showcasing celebrity look-alikes and hostesses.

Lucky B’s is scheduled to remain open each weekend through the Santa Anita meet, offering the Lucky B’s hot dog; the classic Foot-Long; the spicy Chili Cheese dog; and the classic Chicago hot dog. Other goodies such as sodas and chips will be available.

The popular Miss Sunshine Millions Pageant and the Santa Anita Handicapping Contest also will take place Saturday at Santa Anita.



AGENT BIDS FAREWELL TO ‘CLASS ACT’ COURT, WHO MOVES TO OAKLAWN

Mike Ciani wishes nothing but the best for Jon Court, who moves his tack to Oaklawn Park after Saturday’s Sunshine Millions engagements.

The 34-year-old agent has represented the 48-year-old rider for 16 months and expressed the utmost praise for the native of Gainesville, Florida, who was honored by his peers by being voted Santa Anita’s George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2007.

“He’s a class act and it was an honor to be his agent,” said Ciani, a native of New York who has been in California since he was seven years old. Ciani has been an agent for 20 months and took the book of Brice Blanc effective yesterday.



FREE FRIDAYS, DOLLAR MENU, CONTINUE AT SANTA ANITA TOMORROW

The fourth of Santa Anita’s ongoing Free Friday promotions is offered tomorrow and continues each Friday the remainder of the meet that ends April 19.

In addition to free general admission, box seating will be available free of charge Fridays on a first-come, first-served basis. Fans also will be offered a $1 menu, which includes beer, soda, hot dogs and popcorn.



FINISH LINES: Julio Canani said on an overcast Thursday morning peppered with intermittent light rain that San Rafael Stakes winner The Pamplemousse would make his next start in the Grade III Sham Stakes at 1 1/8 miles Feb. 28, while Bobby Frankel said Brother Keith, fourth in the San Rafael, would make his next start in a stakes race, even though the maiden winner still has conditions. “I’m going to run him back in some stakes,” Frankel said. “I don’t know where, either here or New Orleans (possibly the Grade III Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds on Feb. 7) . . . Jerry Hollendorfer, who has four horses entered at Santa Anita today, said California Derby winner Chocolate Candy would remain in the Bay Area for his next start on the Triple Crown trail in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate on Feb. 14. “Then we might come back here for the Santa Anita Derby (April 4),” Hollendorfer said . . . Well Armed, seeking to win the San Antonio Handicap for the second straight year, worked four furlongs Thursday in :48.40 under regular rider Aaron Gryder for trainer Eoin Harty . . . Dan Hendricks reports multiple graded stakes winner Daytona is enjoying some R & R at Ballena Vista Farm in Ramona. “He’s looking great,” the trainer said. “He put a lot of weight on and seems as happy as can be. That’s just what he needed. He had two years straight training, a lot of hard races and earned us a million dollars. He’ll be back (to race again). It’ll just be a matter of time.” Hendricks added that Indian Sun has returned to his barn after four months off “and is doing really good.” . . . Roger Olguin, agent for Martin Garcia, also will be representing his son, jockey Gerry, during his stay at Santa Anita into March . . . Christine Crocker, proprietor of Champions! Gift Shop, said 98-year-old Santa Anita icon Eddie Logan was in good spirits when she visited him at his home Wednesday where he is recovering from a seizure suffered on Jan. 3. “He was looking good,” Crocker said of the shoe shine man who has been at Santa Anita on every opening day since the track opened on Christmas Day, 1934. “He has a wheel chair and was wearing an IV when I saw him, but he was very coherent and very excited to have visitors. He’s got his little dog there with him and Eddie looked and sounded very, very good.” . . . Former Los Angeles Times handicapper and current contributor to the Today’s Racing Digest website Bob Mieszerski will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest on the Today’s Racing Digest seminar Saturday, 11 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens.