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Great Mills at Home in Turf Sprints

For the first time in his last 12 races, turf sprint specialist Great Mills makes his first back-to-back start at the same track when he runs in Saturday’s Grade III Daytona Stakes for 3-year-olds and up scheduled for about 6 ½ furlongs on turf.

The 4-year-old son of War Front trained by Steve Asmussen will be making his first start since running fourth by three lengths at 29-1 in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita last Nov. 3. Owned and bred by Millennium Farms, Great Mills drew the No. 1 post position and will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard in the Breeders’ Cup race and who got off to a flying start on opening day, winning four races including the La Brea Stakes and the Sir Beaufort Stakes.

“I looked at the weather all week and it looks good (for Saturday),” Asmussen said. “He likes firm ground. I’m not crazy about his draw at all, but he’s got enough experience with it that he’ll be all right.”

Great Mills’ journey since July 28, 2011 has taken him to turf sprints at Saratoga, Woodbine, Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Fair Grounds, Houston, Penn National, Presque Isle Downs and Santa Anita.

“How about him sitting still for a while?” Asmussen asked rhetorically. “I don’t know if he really knows how to do that. Every track has one race for him.”

The field for the Daytona, one of three stakes races Saturday: Great Mills, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Comma to the Top, Corey Nakatani, 9-2; Starspangled Heat, Mike Smith, 20-1; Circa’sgoldengear, Joe Talamo, 8-1; Clubhouse Ride, Aaron Gryder, 12-1; Capital Account, David Flores, 5-1; Guest Star, Victor Espinoza, 12-1; Red Sun, Julien Leparoux, 6-1; Wilkinson, Martin Pedroza, 6-1; Ain’t No Other, Juan Hernandez, 8-1; and Tale of Champion, Tyler Baze, 15-1. Byrama was scratched.



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