The $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at six furlongs for 4-year-olds and up figures to highlight the day’s racing at Santa Anita as four Gr. I winners, three of them California-bred, were among 18 horses pre-entered. Santa Anita will also host the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff, for fillies and mares aged four and up at 1 1/16 miles; the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles; and the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs.
Georgie Boy, a 4-year-old gelding by Tribal Rule, heads the Gr. I contingent in the Sprint. Trained by veteran Kathy Walsh, Georgie Boy won the Gr. I Del Mar Futurity in September of 2007 and he comes off a solid third-place finish in the Gr. I Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26. Georgie Boy has a 9-4-2-2 record and $533,634 in earnings. He was bred and is owned by George Schwary.
Cost of Freedom, who was claimed for $50,000 three starts back on July 28, comes off a career-best effort in winning Oak Tree’s Gr. I Ancient Title Stakes on Sept. 27. Owned by Gary and Cecil Barber, he is conditioned by John Sadler. Cost of Freedom has a 10--6-1-2 record with $344,152 in earnings.
The third California-bred Gr. I winner in the Sprint field is the 5-year-old gelding by Skimming, Johnny Eves. A winner of Santa Anita’s Gr. I Malibu in December, 2007, Johnny Eves is owned by Mooncoin LLC and is trained by Jay Robbins. A winner two starts back of the Gr. III Vernon O. Underwood Stakes on Nov. 22 at Hollywood Park, Johnny Eves was eased, beaten 17 ¼ lengths in the Gr. III El Conejo Handicap at 5 ½ furlongs on Jan. 1 at Santa Anita.
The El Conejo, run on Jan. 1, was won for the second consecutive year by millionaire In Summation, a 6-year-old Florida-bred horse who won the Gr. I Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar in July, 2007. The son of Put It Back should vie for favoritism and is trained by Christophe Clement and owned by Waterford Farm. He has a 27--11-6-1 record and $1,175,166 in earnings.
A total of 20 fillies and mares, 12 California-bred and eight Florida-bred, were pre-entered for the Distaff. The highly regarded Leah’s Secret would appear to head the Florida contingent and could be the horse to beat. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 6-year-old mare by Tiger Ridge comes off a pair of impressive wins in Gr. II company, the Chilukki at Churchill Downs on Nov. 2, and the Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct on Nov. 28. Both races were contested at one mile. Leah’s Secret is owned by WinStar Farm.
Also in the Distaff, trainer Barry Abrams is hoping to “have ‘em surrounded” with two daughters of the red-hot sire Unusual Heat; Lethal Heat and Spenditallbaby. Lethal Heat, owned in part by Abrams and Madeline Auerbach, comes off a troubled third-place finish in the Gr. III Monrovia Handicap on Jan. 3 at 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course. A winner of the Gr. II Hollywood Oaks on June 8, Lethal Heat has a 10--6-0-3 record and $438,528 in career earnings.
Spenditallbaby, owned by Mark Fiorito and Peggy Roberts, comes off a second-place finish in the California-bred Cat’s Cradle Handicap at Hollywood Park on Dec. 20. A 5-year-old, she has a 31--5-6-3 record and $469,173 in earnings.
Romance Is Diane is another California-bred who figures very prominently in the Distaff. Trained by Mike Mitchell, the 5-year-old mare by In Excess has been idle since running a stout second at 1 1/8 miles against the boys in the California Cup Classic on Oct. 5. Owned by Senji Nishimura, she has a 16--5-2-3 record and $712,718 in earnings. The connections announced prior to the Cal Cup that she would be bred this Spring.
The Sunshine Millions Turf attracted 17 pre-entries, nine California-breds and eight Florida-breds. The California-bred Mr. Chairman, winner of the California Cup Classic on Oct. 5, and fifth, beaten three lengths in the Gr. I, 1 ½ miles Hollywood Turf Cup on Dec. 6, would appear to rate a big chance for trainer Doug O’Neill. The 6-year-old gelding by Unusual Heat is owned by Great Friends Stable and has a 14--5-2-3 record with $347,556 in career earnings.
Icy Atlantic, an 8-year-old Florida-bred horse, would be competing in his fifth Sunshine Millions. With $990,050 in earnings, a fifth-place finish would put the son of Stormy Atlantic over the $1 million mark. His career record is 45--8-11-3. Icy Atlantic is trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by James Scatuorchio.
Sunshine Millions Oaks attracted 13 pre-entries, seven California-bred and six Florida-bred. The Bob Baffert trained Ten Churros is the most accomplished of the California-breds, with a 7--2-1-2 record and $137,567 in earnings. The daughter of High Brite is owned by Patti and Hal Earnhardt.
Among the Florida-breds, the Martin Wolfson conditioned Frolic’s Dream has the best resume, with three wins from four starts. Two of her wins came in stakes, both at Calder Race Course on Oct. 18 and Nov. 8. In her most recent start, she tasted defeat for the first time when third, beaten a head in the six furlong, Gr. III Old Hat, at Gulfstream on Jan. 4. Frolic’s Dream is owned by Dare to Dream Farm.
The $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic, the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf, the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint and the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash will be run at Gulfstream Park.
First post time at Santa Anita on Sunshine Millions Day is 11:45 a.m.