Fawkes Ready for Sunshine Millions Day

Gulfstream Park
Photo: MEC

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 April.

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.



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