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Cerin Heads East With Cigar Man For Millions
By Brian Skirka
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - A horse bred in the state of Florida will win the 2011 Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park.
You can take it to the bank.
But California-based trainer Vladimir Cerin is hopeful Cigar Man can represent the left coast well and bring the winner’s share of the $500,000 purse back home to the Golden State.
Coming off a win in the Grade 3 All American at Golden Gate on Nov. 26, Cerin will ship Cigar Man across the country for the Classic where he will take on nine other horses bred in the Sunshine State.
“He’s a Florida bred and is a horse that’s in great form,” said Cerin regarding his decision to ship his 6-year-old across the country from his Santa Anita home base. “He’s a great shipper. He would ship in a milk crate if he had to.”
Cigar Man, who was based in Florida at the beginning of his career when trained by Kathleen O’Connell, has been stabled in southern California since 2009 and boasts a career record of 6-6-6 from 33 starts.
The son of Drewman will be part of a trio of Classic shippers also including the Sunland Park-based Black Hills and newly-Santa Anita-based Honour the Deputy. The latter is a recent private purchase who has raced exclusively at Laurel in his four-race career, but is now trained by Jerry Hollendorfer.
While his trainer hasn’t started a horse at Gulfstream Park since 2006, Cigar Man’s last visit to the Hallandale track came in 2008.
Both experiences didn’t go well.
“His one race [a seventh-place finish] at Gulfstream was not successful,” said Cerin, who’s last Gulfstream starter, Super Frolic, finished eighth in the 2006 Donn Handicap. “But he’s training really well right now and that’s helping to alleviate the concerns about running on dirt and shipping across the country.”
Cigar Man drew post position No. 7 in the 10-horse Classic field and will be ridden by Julien Leparoux.
Cerin says while he is looking forward to running Cigar Man in the Classic, he will likely stay behind in California on Saturday.
“It looks like we’re going to have five horses in at Santa Anita,” he said. “I’ll probably stay here.”