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From Coast to Coast

Don't Discount Duke of Mischief in Sunshine Millions

I wanted to write about Mucho Macho Man, but what can I say, that I, or someone else for that matter, has not already said? The answer, by the way, is nothing. By now, we all know the colt’s story like the backs of our hands. I love that big colt, and I believe that he is loaded with talent. We were lucky enough to see a glimmer of that talent in 2011, but 2012 will be the year that this big, bay colt with an even bigger personality will shine. No, rather than beat The Man’s story to death, I am going to take the opportunity to take a look at the rest of the field. 
 
The Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes drew a field of seven headlined by The Man. He will face Duke of Mischief, Dream Maestro, Adios Charlie, Decaf Again, Turbo Compressor, and Ron the Greek. Dream Maestro and Decaf Again are the two closers and the two long shots in the field, though Dream Maestro did finish third in last year's edition of the race. Turbo Compressor is a perfect two for two at the Classic distance of a mile and an eighth. He does his best running when he is on or near the lead and will likely be a factor in setting the pace. Bill Mott sends out Ron the Greek, a horse who has, in the past, preferred to stalk the pace or close but more recently has shown early speed. The change in tactics has certainly worked for the son of Mandate. In his last two starts, he either set the pace or was right there with the leader, and he won both races. 
 
Duke of Mischief is really good at lulling rival trainers into complacency. Just when you think this horse is not a threat, Duke of Mischief turns up with a gutsy performance to score an upset victory. His G3 Charles Town Classic Stakes win came at short odds, but that field was full of talent, and six of the entrants went off at odds of less than 6-1. He scored in the G3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes at odds of about 16-1, in the G2 Oaklawn Handicap as the fourth choice at odds of about 6-1, and in the G3 Fort Lauderdale Stakes as the fifth choice at odd of about 6-1. The son of Graeme Hall would probably have more wins to his name, but trainer David Fawkes has never run from a fight. Duke of Mischief consistently runs against the best of the best and will be a tough competitor in the Classic. In last year's edition, he finished second to Tackleberry. 
 
Adios Charlie, like Mucho Macho Man, is making his comeback run. The colt was sidelined with a stress fracture, but the long layoff he encountered as a result did not bother the colt in the least. In his first start after his break, he beat an allowance optional claiming field that included Praetereo and Uptowncharlybrown. In a career that included three Grade 2 races, the Indian Charlie colt has never finished worse than second. Like Turbo Compressor and Ron the Greek, Adios Charlie likes to be near the pace. 
 
When I first saw the weights assigned to the field, my first thought was, “Oh lord! It is a good thing that Larry Jones is not Turbo Compressor’s trainer.” The absolute highest weight for any horse would have been 123 lbs, but, with the exception of Turbo Compressor, none of the entrants have earned $60,000 since August 1. Turbo Compressor by virtue of his Carl G. Rose Classic Handicap win in November was assigned 119 lbs, and the rest of the field carries 117 lbs. I am sure we all remember the uproar caused by the weights assigned in the Delaware Handicap. Havre de Grace was assigned two more pounds than her archrival Blind Luck despite the fact that Blind Luck owned every advantage except home track advantage. Personally, if I were Todd Pletcher, I would be a wee bit upset about the weights given the competition. However, there is one huge difference here. The Classic weights are assigned based on race conditions, whereas the DelCap weights were assigned by a handicapper. Simply put, even if he is upset about the weights, there is nothing Pletcher can do short of scratching his charge.
  
In yesterday’s blog covering the SM F&M Sprint, I mentioned that there is a 40% chance of rain at Gulfstream on Saturday. That forecast has been updated, and the chance of rain increased from 40% to 50%. Unlike in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint, an off track would really not have too big of impact on the dynamics of the race. Turbo Compressor has never raced on an off track, and Mucho Macho Man finished a troubled seventh in the Belmont Stakes after running in all three legs of the Triple Crown. The other five entrants have raced on and had success on an off track.
  
Turbo Compressor has been listed as the 2-1 morning line favorite. Whether or not he can beat Mucho Macho Man, Duke of Mischief, and Adios Charlie remains to be seen, but he does have one huge advantage. Jockey John Velazquez and trainer Todd Pletcher are a lethal combination at Gulfstream Park, especially in stakes races. Based on connections alone, I would not discount this colt. I would not sleep on Duke of Mischief either; he could very well pull one of his patented upsets. Simply put, this is a deep field, and the winner will have to earn his victory. 
 
The Classic is the final race of the Sunshine Millions Series. It is race 10 on Saturday’s card, and post time is 5:25 p.m.

 

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Older Comments about Don't Discount Duke of Mischief in Sunshine Millions...

Nevermind--found it-- DRF is streaming live...
Is this being broadcast live anywhere?
Agree with icy MMM has oen significant race, his last, whereas Duke of Mischief has several that put that on in the hunt...Still that one may be coming late for a part underneath
MMM is overrated, Duke of Mischief is a horse with nagging injuries if there is a nice rain to give him a mud bath , Who can stop the Duke?
3,7,6. Almost went 3,7,5 What's with the rain on these big days? I'm waiting to see if the turf races get moved to the main track. Went w/Slew's grandson in the Million's Turf. Just the win pick so far.
#6/#3/#1
#1/#3/#7
I need MMM to prove to me that he is a winner and that he can repeat the performance from his last race.
Ultimately, I'm sticking with MMM, too. I MIGHT get a little wishy washy if the track turns up wet tomorrow, though.
Duke of Mischief is one of five in here with a legitimate shot to win ... I am sticking with Triple M though ;-)

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis
  
 

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

 

Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation blogging as The Florida Filly. Using that moniker, she mainly covered racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. A move north to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the new From Coast to Coast blog for HRN, which is simply a revamped version of The Florida Filly. Don't let the new look and name change fool you, though. Ashley still brings to the table the same great coverage as From Coast to Coast as she did for The Florida Filly. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

 

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.