Floridians line up for a six race Sunshine Millions this year. With the Californians out of the picture, a majority of these animals have seen each other many times before. While many times a scenario like this would beg “Whose turn is it?” not many of these take turns beating one another up. There will be dominant favorites in nearly every race, and they will be tough. Race by race, here’s this year’s edition of the Sunshine Millions:
Race 5 – Filly & Mare Sprint – Despite its small size, this field has possibilities from inside to out. Several in this field have taken on Graded, open company lately and the rail filly just took on males. Most want the lead so I will take the filly that will take a hot pace and then some. Emma’s Encore hasn’t run since October, yes, but she’s proven off a layoff before against graded company. She is reliant on pace but should find it from most stalls in this event. The Giant Killer hasn’t got off to the fastest start at the Gulfstream meet but is overdue to hit pay dirt in an event like this. He’s saved her for this spot for some time, as she’s been working out for over a month now in Florida. Golden Mystery and R Holiday Mood will take their share of action off their recent speed figures, but may end up wanting the same spot the entire way around along with Isn’t She Grand, Becauseimworthit and Honey Chile. If even a few of these hook up on the front end Emma’s Encore will be making some noise late. The strength appears to lie with the ODDS in this race unless you are completely in love with Golden Mystery.
Race 6 – Filly & Mare Turf – One would expect the money to strictly chop three ways in this event, if not one. Hooh Why, Romacaca and Callmethesqueeze have beaten all comers in this field at some point. The only exception is the newly turned four-year old Regalo Mia, who has been coming up just short of some of the toughies in the division. Defending champion Hooh Why has been racking up the frequent flyer miles this year, making stops in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ontario before settling back in Hallandale for the South Beach. Romacaca turned the tables on Hooh Why in the South Beach last time out, getting up by a neck in a 13-horse field while displaying her versatility in coming from just off the pace. Romacaca had been off since August when trying this race last year, and with the South Beach under her belt may just be able to turn the tables once again on Hooh Why. Regalo Mia will probably need a little faster pace than she’s going to see up front, and with the possible scratch of Speak Easy Gal the pace could get even softer. With regards to the Sunshine Millions giveaway, this is a split call. Pick your favorite between the favorites and move along.
Race 7 – Distaff – The distaff is a slightly more intriguing puzzle, for there are some interesting entries outside of the usual suspects. This year’s contingent also does not have to deal with Awesome Feather, so front-runners can come out from hiding. Once again, a lot depends on the direction of Speak Easy Gal. She’s not really a dirt filly but with the lack of speed drawn in one can’t really blame Marty Wolfson for considering this spot. She isn’t mind-blowingly quick but the seven horse field is sort of begging for a front-runner. If she scratches, Tale of Peace will take heavy play to pull the robbery on the front end, but it may not be that simple. Delray Lady has shown speed at times but took a general form nosedive around November 10th. While they gave her plenty of time since that start, she returned in 2013 with a similarly poor effort against restricted allowance foes. Successful Song is another who can show speed but prefers to sit just off a runner or two. This could turn out to be a rider’s race when all is said and done – Leading to the top two riders at the meet – Joel Rosario and Luis Saez. Rosario really seems to have the best options with Successful Song, as she can sit just about anywhere and gets a nice stalking post. I’d give a longer look to Jacobson’s Score Boyera if she wasn’t going to need so much help up front. Keep an eye on her if it gets sloppy on Saturday, but otherwise avoid the camera-shy. Evens seem to have this race under their thumb.
Race 8 – Sprint – A full field, yet the evens may dominate again. Most live entities in this field have drawn even slots, with varying styles. Bernie the Maestro will take a ton of money off his Claiming Crown score, and get strapped with the outside post for a second consecutive time. It seemed to help the son of Bernstein stalk last time around, and should produce the same effect today against his state-bred brothers. Six furlongs may not be his ideal distance but he was in front at that point in the Rapid Transit, and with Rosario able to steer clear of trouble on the outside he should prove a handful. Many of these exit the Sunshine State won by Bahamian Squall. He is another drawn well to the outside for his stalking style, and gets stablemate Shock’emagain just to his inside to assume the rabbit duties for the Fawkes barn. Fawkes also previously trained BC Sprint winner Big Drama’s little brother Little Drama, who draws post six. He tasted defeat at the hands of Bahamian Squall last time but has been freshened with some fast works in the holster for a rematch. Three of the speediest in the field are drawn right next to one another on the inside, with unfortunate Star Harbour drawn in the sandwich. He is surely the most likely to hang on after an early pace duel, but this handicapper isn’t counting on it. I am just counting on an EVEN to take the sprint.
Race 9 – Turf – Breeders’ Cup winner Little Mike takes a pass on this year’s Sunshine Millions, but the very capable graded performer Doubles Partner steps up to stand as the daunting favorite for Todd Pletcher. The names winning this horse’s past four defeats read like a who’s who of current top turf males: Data Link, Wise Dan and Little Mike. Clear of that competition and back on the east coast, Doubles Partner loves Gulfstream and should be able to recapture his winning form against much softer foes. He’s pretty lightly raced for a six-year-old, with lots of layoff lines along the way. However, even his less-than-best effort could get the job done here and unless Bad Debt flies out to an insurmountable early lead, it appears to be Doubles Partner’s race to lose. Hard to get creative underneath as only two of his competitors even won a race last year, but Bad Debt and his tactical speed should carry him at least far enough for a piece.
Race 10 – Classic – Oh look, the runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. More value! Sarcasm aside, it’s a two-horse race on paper. If Mike Smith falls off, decides he needs an ice cream cone or the horse completely misfires your guess is as good as mine. Ron the Greek is entirely a victim of pace though, and without much of it in here good luck tracking down 3M. Hard not to root for the Macho Man, who tries his heart out every time for Kathy Ritvo and nearly always gets a check. He’s missed the board three times in his career (once at Gulfstream), but two of those efforts came amidst an exhausting triple crown run and can easily be forgiven in light of his recent ultra-consistency. Losing to Fort Larned or To Honor and Serve robs him of no credit, and the race should set up perfectly for him. The bullet he threw in on January 5th screams off the page and makes one wonder what scenario would get him beat in this spot. This handicapper can’t think of many, so I’ll tip my cap to the Macho Man and enjoy the show. Looks like another one for the evens.
Remember, there’s cash to be won at Canterbury on Saturday – Simply choose odds or evens! Make sure you enter by race five on Saturday (approximately 1:30 Central) for a chance to win a $50 betting voucher! Rules and details are available at Canterburypark.com. Good luck!
This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann will serve as Canterbury’s Paddock Analyst for the third consecutive season in 2013 after previously serving in a similar role at Lincoln Racecourse and Columbus Ag Park. She blogs about both local and National racing.