This Saturday Gulfstream Park will host its first ever Sunshine Millions Preview day. The card will feature eight Preview races with purses totaling $1 million. These eight races will serve as preps for the races on the Sunshine Millions card. To be held Saturday, January 18, the Sunshine Millions card, the series itself worth $1.3 million in purse money, will once again serve as a precursor to the Eclipse Awards.
The first of the Preview races, the Millions Distaff Preview, is carded as race 2. The mile and a sixteenth event drew a small field of five. Recent Gulfstream standout My Pal Chrisy, who has thus far won a pair of stakes at the South Florida track’s first summer meet, should be installed as the morning line favorite. Depending on what trainer Stanley Gold decides to do with Awesome Belle, however, the field could become even smaller. The multiple stakes winning daughter of Awesome of Course is cross-entered in the Millions Filly and Mare Turf Preview.
The Juvenile Sprint Stakes drew a field of seven fairly even matched two-year old colts and geldings. My Brown Eyed Guy will likely lead the charge. The gelded son of With Distinction won the first two Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder but stopped badly when stretching out to 1 1/16 mile in the third leg of the series. His return to a sprinting distance should aid his performance, but he will be challenged by several others in this spot, particularly Wildcat Red who is undefeated at Gulfstream.
Bad Debt headlines the Millions Turf Preview, but I like the look of another entrant in this race. Blameshifter enters this race with absolutely no stakes experience. So why do I like him? Simple. I like him because he loves the Gulfstream turf course. He is 5: 3-0-2 on the lawn at the track. Whether or not his affinity for the course will be enough to win him the race over some of the more experienced stakes runners remains to be seen, but I think he could be an interesting play.
The Millions Classic Preview will be extra special during its inaugural running thanks to a visit by reigning Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man. The popular horse, who has wintered at Gulfstream for the past 3 years, will enter the saddling enclosure and walking ring with the horses entered in the Classic Preview. Fans will be able to take photos while he circles the walking ring.
Jackson Bend is the surprising big name in the Classic Preview field, but it is highly improbable that he will get a lot of support on the morning line. The popular sprinter hasn’t traveled a mile and a sixteenth since May of 2011, but he could still win the race on class alone. Sr. Quisqueyano and Souper Speedy look to be the two to beat. The former has won a pair of stakes races over this track this summer while the latter was most recently 4th in the G2 Kelso Handicap, beaten only 2 ½ lengths for it all.
A fully field of 14 fillies will line up to contest the Juvenile Fillies Turf. It was really difficult for me to find one filly that really stood out from the rest, but I narrowed my choices down to two. Super Fantasy is a perfect 2-for-2 on the lawn and has a race and win over the Gulfstream course. She has gone the mile distance, but this is her stakes debut. My second choice was Secret Kitten, who ironically enough is not a Kitten’s Joy filly. She is undefeated in 3 career starts with two wins on dirt and one on turf. The downside here is that she has not traveled a route distance. She will have a tough time of it from post 11 in the 14 horse field, but perhaps the added distance will make up for the outside post.
The Juvenile Filly Sprint drew an oversubscribed field of 15 fillies. Secret Kitten is cross-entered in this spot, where she not only drew a better post, but also stands a better chance of winning. The 6.5 furlongs should be right in her comfort zone, and she will retain red hot jockey Antonio Gallardo. Aside from Secret Kitten, the fillies I liked best all drew to the outside in nearly consecutive posts. Holiday Magic, post 10, has never been off the board in 5 career starts, 4 of those stakes races at neighboring Calder. In post 11 is Flat Out Charming, who failed as the favorite last out. I’m willing to forgive that effort as she was pinched back twice in the early running, went wide on the final turn, and then ducked back to the inside for racing room. Despite not having a pace to close into, I thought she finished up well when she could have spit the bit. Stately Defence most recently won a mile long maiden affair by 9 lengths and is 2: 1-1-0 lifetime with both races at Gulfstream. Another filly who could be an interesting play her is Stonestreet’s Yes Liz. She ships in from Monmouth but hasn’t won since July. As a Pletcher trainee, though, she is not to be ignored at Gulfstream.
Silsita is the one to beat in the Millions Filly and Mare Turf Preview despite her recent efforts. She only has one start over Gulfstream’s turf course, but that resulted in a 3rd place finish in her third lifetime start. Again, as a Pletcher trainee, you have to watch out for her at this track. TaWee winner Millennia is also one to watch here. Since returning to Gulfstream, she has shown good form, and she gets jockey Joe Bravo. I also like Parranda, winner of the Our Dear Peg stakes here back in September. She is 8: 3-0-2 over Gulfstream’s turf course and has jockey Jose Lezcano.
Last up on the Millions Preview card is the Juvenile Turf Stakes. Like the Juvenile Filly Sprint, it drew an oversubscribed field. My Brown Eyed Guy is cross-entered here, but based on his past performances and post draw, I wager he is more likely to race in the Juvenile Sprint. Like the filly division of this race, I had a hard time finding a favorite. Both divisions sported more non-turf runners than actual turf runners, but I finally found a good one in the colt/gelding division. Here’s Johnny is a Wesley Ward trainee who is 4: 2-1-0 lifetime. His only off the board finish occurred in the Prix de la Vallee d’Auge at Deauville in France. He had a nice 48 and 3 half mile work over the lawn at Palm Meadows on November 4th and gets jockey Kent Desormeaux.
The inaugural running of the Millions Preview card drew a good showing, particularly in the juvenile races. With so many wide open races, odds should be good for many of the races, a definite plus for the bettors, both professional and amateur. With the card’s proximity to Veteran’s Day, there is also one more big plus that comes with the day. The Handicap for the Heroes tournament, developed in conjunction with Laurel Park and the Maryland Jockey Club, will utilize races from both the Millions Preview Card at Gulfstream and the great card put together at Laurel Park to raise money for wounded warriors. Proceeds will benefit the Horses for Heroes program run by Maryland Therapeutic Riding. The program uses equine-assisted activities to assist wounded warriors in emotional and physical healing. All it costs is a voluntary $5 contribution to Maryland Therapeutic Riding. To participate, visit The Racing Biz website and click on the link provided in the article.