Stars Ready to Shine on Florida Sunshine Millions
By Jack Will
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Stronach Stable’s undefeated 4-year-old filly Awesome Feather, Pinnacle Racing and Bill Kaplan’s 2011 Eclipse champion filly or mare sprinter Musical Romance and Reeves Thoroughbred’s 4-year-old Mucho Macho Man, third in the Kentucky Derby (G1) last spring, are among the stars expected to run in one of six Florida Sunshine Millions Stakes to be run on Sat., Jan., 28 at Gulfstream Park.
Nominations have been released for the six races for Florida-breds that will be worth a total of $1.3 million. The $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles will climax the rich card as Mucho Macho Man makes his 2012 debut in a talented field that may also include Robert Sahn and Stan Hough’s Adios Charlie, Alex and Joann Liblong and partners’ Duke of Mischief and P and G Stable and Off the Hook’s Turbo Compressor.
Trained by Kathy Ritvo, Mucho Macho Man finished three lengths behind Animal Kingdom in the Kentucky Derby before tailing off to finish sixth in the Preakness (G1) at Pimlico and seventh in the Belmont Stakes (G1) in early June. Given a good freshening, the son of Macho Uno came back strong on Nov. 9 at Aqueduct to win a one-mile allowance race by 5 ¾ lengths.
Adios Charlie recently returned with a sharp allowance score going a mile over the Gulfstream track on Dec. 16 for trainer and co-owner Stan Hough in his first start since early July. The son of Indian Charlie has three wins and three seconds in as many career starts, capturing the Jerome Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct in April and finishing second in both the Peter Pan (G2) and Dwyer Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park.
Awesome Feather will likely be a short-priced favorite in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff for trainer Chad Brown as she bids to keep her career record perfect at nine-for-nine in the 1 1/8 miles test. The daughter of Awesome of Course won all six of her starts as a 2-year-old in 2010, sealing an Eclipse Award campaign winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill Downs for breeder Jacks or Better Farm and trainer Stanley Gold.
Purchased by Stronach Stable days after the Breeders’ Cup for $2.3 million at the Fasig-Tipton November sales, Awesome Feather’s career was put on hold for most of the 2011 season by a tendon problem, but she came around in the fall to win the Le Slew overnight stakes at Belmont in early October and Gazelle Stakes (G1) at Aqueduct last out on Nov. 26 by 5 ¼ lengths.
Musical Romance sealed a 2011 Eclipse Award campaign winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) on Nov. 4 in her 14th start of a long campaign that began in longer races before turning back to concentrate on sprints. The daughter of Concorde’s Tune should rule a solid favorite in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint at six furlongs facing a sharp rival in Terra Di Sienna’s 5-year-old Pica Slew.
Leading the probable cast for the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at 1 1/8 miles on grass will be Priscilla Vaccarezza’s 5-year-old gelding Little Mike, a winner of three Graded stakes over the Gulfstream course last year for trainer Dale Romans. The son of Spanish Steps recently returned to competition with a game allowance victory over the course on Dec. 22 in his first start since early April when he won the Appleton Stakes (G3) here.
Peter Fuller’s 5-year-old mare Trip for A.J. won a hard-fought victory over Team Block and Rich Ege’s 6-year-old mare Askbut I Won’ttell in the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf last January and the rematch appears set for this year’s renewal of the $150,000 test at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
Donald Dizney’s 5-year-old Apriority shipped to California to finish second by a head to Amazombie early last year in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita and will go into this renewal of the $150,000 dash at six furlongs as a heavy favorite after posting a game victory in the Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) for trainer David Fawkes over the track and distance on Dec. 31.