Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012 Florida Sunshine Millions Day

On Saturday, the sun shone down on Hallandale Beach, Florida as top-class Florida-bred horses showed their athleticism and talent in the Florida Sunshine Millions. The Sunshine Millions used to be known as a contest between Florida- and California-bred horses competing with races evenly divided between Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita Park, but in November of 2011, it was announced that California would not be participating. However, the new format of the Sunshine Millions was not disappointing in the least.
Awesome Feather (#4)
Photo: Terri Cage
The fifth race on Gulfstream’s card began the Sunshine Millions and was perhaps the most anticipated of them all: the Distaff. The heavy favorite in the race was the undefeated filly Awesome Feather, who was voted the 2010 Champion Two-Year-Old Filly after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) and won the 2011 edition of the Gazelle Stakes (GI). A personal favorite of mine and a filly I have adored since before her Breeders’ Cup victory, Awesome Feather found herself in a speed duel with Tiz the Argument. Though Delightful Mary seemed to be gaining ground on the undefeated filly, Awesome Feather seemed to be shot out of a cannon as the field turned into the stretch. In jaw-dropping fashion, Awesome Feather crossed the wire 5 ¾ lengths ahead, running her perfect record to nine-for-nine.
The Sunshine Florida Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint Stakes was the next race run over the Hallandale Beach track. The race featured the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint victor and 2011 Champion Female Sprinter, Musical Romance, but it was It’s Me Mom that dominated the race. It looked as if Musical Romance wasn’t firing at all and she began dropping back, but she didn’t give up and found enough within herself to finish fourth despite grabbing a quarter and nearly pulling her shoe off. Instead, it was It’s Me Mom that swept to a 6 ¾-length victory.
The male rendition of the sprint was up next. Soaring Stocks made it two consecutive victories when he crossed the wire a half-length in front in the six-furlong race. Behind him were six stakes winners.
The racing moved to Gulfstream’s grass oval for the Florida Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Stakes, in which Hooh Why closed beautifully to get up under John Velazquez. Possibly most famous for winning the Ashland Stakes (GI) at age three, the six-year-old chestnut mare came from mid-pack to gallop smoothly to victory.
Racing over the same course as the mares just had, the males took command of Gulfstream’s turf course in the Florida Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes. Little Mike showed his heart by prevailing in a spectacular final time of 1:45.94 for nine furlongs. He is now five-for-six over Gulfstream’s turf course.
The final Sunshine Millions event was the Classic. Attracting a strong field of Florida-breds, the race featured four graded stakes winners, including the 2011 Kentucky Derby third-place finisher, Mucho Macho Man. After sitting off Turbo Compressor, the gigantic colt swept to the lead around the far turn and did not look back, drawing off impressively to win for trainer Kathy Ritvo.
The performances of the Florida Sunshine Millions winners were nothing short of spectacular. From the dominant wins by Awesome Feather and It’s Me Mom, to the game victories by Soaring Stocks, Hooh Why, and Little Mike, and to Mucho Macho Man’s stirring Classic triumph, the Florida-breds showed their class and brilliance in the new format of the Sunshine Millions.

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1 comment:

  1. When I saw MMM last year in L'ville and NY, he appeared to me like a 16 year old boy who shot up 4 inches over the summer and just had not grown into his body. YET. Seeing him today, that stride looked great and he is so big that he will gobble up ground. A big, strapping colt with a bright future this year. I hope to catch him many times live. Enjoyed your blog on the Sunshine Millions today. Thanks.