Trainer David Fawkes is looking forward to the $1.3 million Florida
Sunshine Millions races for Florida-breds to be run at Gulfstream Park
on Sat., Jan. 19.
Fawkes plans to enter four stakes runners in three of the races led
by Larry Fugate’s 6-year-old gelding Cash Rules as a longshot in the
$400,000 Classic and Donald Dizney’s 4-year-old Bahamian Squall as the
probable favorite in the $150,000 Sprint.
“We know Cash Rules will have a tough task (facing Mucho Macho Man
and Ron the Greek), but he’s training great and things happen in a race
like just happened to Handsome Jack,” said Fawkes, referring to the fact
that Handsome Jack had just been left at the gate as the 7-to-10
favorite in the first race Thursday, finishing fifth of six.
Cash Rules is a homebred son of Peace Rules and finished third last
out behind Csaba and Delegation in the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes on Dec.
16. However, he had won his four previous starts in stakes races at
Calder, including the Spend a Buck Handicap (G3) and Carl Rose Classic
"I think Bahamian Squall might end up the favorite in the Sprint. He
couldn’t be doing any better. We talked about maybe bringing him back
in the Mr. Prospector (G3) after he won the Sunshine State so
impressively, but decided to give him the extra time after running such a
big race. I really think he’ll be as good if not better than Apriority,
but we decided to take the opportunity to keep him with the
Florida-breds while we can.
“I’m pretty sure he’ll do well in open, Graded stakes and there are
plenty of opportunities for him to do that ahead,” said the trainer. A
homebred son of Gone West out of Midway Squall, by Storm Bird, Bahamian
Squall has three wins and three seconds in eight starts and hit his best
stride last out winning the $100,000 Sunshine State Stakes here on Dec.
2 by 3 ½ lengths over Indiano, who came back to win the $100,000 Mr.
Prospector Stakes impressively on Dec. 29.
Bahamian Squall’s 6-year-old half-brother Apriority, by Grand Slam,
lost a head decision when second to emerging champion sprinter Amazombie
in the 2011 Sunshine Million Sprint here before a track record
allowance score going 6 ½ furlongs in his next start.
Apriority would go on to finish second in the Carter Handicap (G1)
at Aqueduct and lost another tough nose decision when second in the
Churchill Downs Sprint (G2). Apriority came back to win the Mr.
Prospector here last winter and lost another tough one finishing second
by a half-length in the Count Fleet Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park last
Fawkes plans to enter JoAnn and Alex Lieblong’s 7-year-old Duke of
Mischief and John Eaton and Steve Laymon’s 8-year-old gelding Picou in
the $150,000 Turf. A chestnut horse by Graeme Hall, Duke of Mischief is a
winner of $1.9 million earned mostly in major main track stakes over
the years, but will bid to bounce back from a hard to explain
performance last out when virtually eased in the stretch of the Harlan’s
Holiday Stakes won by Csaba here on Dec. 16.
“I’ve got to try something to wake him up,” said Fawkes. “He came
out of that race just fine physically. He did run well on turf early in
his career. In fact he broke his maiden on turf here in his second start
and finished second in a stakes on grass at Tampa Bay in his next
start. Last year he didn’t run any good in a turf race at Tampa Bay but
then ran great to be second in the ($1 million) Charles Town Classic
(G2) in his next start.”
Picou is a chestnut son of With Approval and has made 20 of his 21
career starts on grass, including a third-place finish in the Sunshine
Millions Turf here in 2010 won by Jet Propulsion. Picou’s career has
been punctuated by several lengthy layoffs and this race will be his
third after a one-year hiatus.
Picou finished second by a half-length in the Bonnie Heath Turf Cup at
Calder in November of 2011 and didn’t run again until a close-up
fourth-place finish in the same race last fall, beaten only a
half-length for it all in a solid effort. In one start here since then
he lost another tough decision in an allowance race here on Dec. 8 when
he finished third, beaten a half-length by the winner.