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Jan 29, 2010


By: John Piesen


In handicapping the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita, Compari jumps off the page.

After all, Compari, a 4-year-old gelding, has won four of five lifetime starts, all on the lead, and is the absolute speed of the 11-horse field going nine furlongs over the plastic. What's more, trainer Marty Jones is sailing along at 5-for-12 at the Anita meet, and superjock Gomez does some of his best work when left loose on the lead, especially when the price is right.

But then you learn that only twice in 48 route races run at the current meet has the winner gone wire-to-wire. 

Then again, this is only one of the puzzlements facing the betting public when the Sunshine Millions is renewed for the eighth time Saturday with three races at Santa Anita, and three at Gulfstream Park.

The original concept of the Millions was to establish a mid-winter competition between Florida-breds and California-breds, but, over the years, such a concept really hasn't taken off.

Let's be honest. No one really cares about a match-up of Cal-breds and Florida-breds. But we do care that the races provide some compelling wagering opportunities. On Saturday, the fields will be full, and the races will be wide-open.

The John Piesen Hot Line 1-888-612-2283 has enjoyed considerable success over the years in the Millions, notably nailing a $2,300 trifecta box, and in 2005 winning $26,128.40 on one race after hitting the exacta , trifecta and superfecta...this year should be no exception. Click here or on the banner below to Join my Season Of Piesen Racing Service and get the Sunshine Millions FREE.

The bi-coastal six-pack kicks off with the Sprint at 4:33 Eastern, and concludes with the Classic at 6:38. That's a half-dozen quality stakes packed into a two-hour window. What more could a player ask for on the last Saturday of January?

That said, let's take a look...

THE $200,000 SPRINT  (Gulfstream Park, 4:33 p.m. EST)

On paper, this six-furlong dash for 4-year-olds and up appears to be a matchup of Pashito the Che and This Ones for Phil, two of only three 4-year-olds in the seven-horse field, the shortest field of the Sunshine Millions races.

The last time Pashito the Che raced at Gulfstream, back in mid-April, he was 20-1 in a maiden-special on the grass, and he outran his odds to finish second.

The $1,700 yearling went to Scott Lake after that race, and all he's done is go 6-3-0 in nine starts, including four stakes wins, three of them with triple-digit Beyers, to clearly become the best sprinter in the northeast, and the best horse Lake has ever trained.

After losing his last by a nose at 3-5 in the Gravesend on the Aqueduct inner, PTC gets blinkers for this race. Coa, as usual, rides.

This Ones for Phil, 5-2-1 from 14 starts, made his reputation at the Gulf with a two-length blowout at 11-1 in the Sunshine Millions Dash last year, and two races later, was given a gift by the stewards in the Swale Stakes.

Phil went on the disabled list with bone chips, but returned to action in late November with a blowout win in a Laurel allowance. No doubt, Rick Dutrow will have TOFP ready with the big money on the line,  and he will be first-time Velazquez.

Of  the others, Accredit (Leparoux) has some back class, Sneaking Uponyou is the third 4-year-old in the race, and Machismo (Cruz) is the only California shipper in the group.

THE $300,000 DISTAFF (Gulfstream Park, 5:08 p.m. EST)

Sweet Repent brings a four-race winning streak into this nine-furlong event for fillies and mares, 4 and up, all at Calder, and all with Cruz up. Three of the four wins come by a nose, the other by three-plus lengths.

Last time out, in the Stage Door Betty Stakes, Sweet Repent was the stick in a field of 12, and got up in the last jump to beat Amazing (20-1) by a nostril. SR benefits this time by a three-pound pull over Amazing, who again will be ridden by Trujillo.

Jessica Is Back, odds-on in her last three starts, looks to be the main speed in the field of nine. Leparoux has the return call from trainer Wolfson.

Scolara is a stone closer from Bill Mott, who is struggling at 2-for-36 at the meet. Castellano replaces Desormeaux, who opts for Fair Grounds shipper Unforgotten, who was third in this race last year.

THE $200,000 FILLY/MARE SPRINT   (Santa Anita, 5:36 p.m. EST)

With a ton of speed in the 12-horse field for this six-furlong dash for fillies and mares, 4 and up, you might want to look for a closer.

U R All That I Am broke her maiden with a $12,500 tag last March at Golden Gate, went on to win four straight for trainer Hollendorfer, and is first-time Mike Smith from the one-hole, which is not the place to be.

Miss McCall, a late bloomer for Mike Mitchell, steps up seeking her fourth straight with Tyler Baze. Sleep Tonight (Lezcano) completes an uncoupled Mitchell entry.

Anything that goes with Miss McCall will be committing pari-mutuel harikari.

That includes Florida invader Libor Lady (Gomez), and defending champion High Resolve (Russell Baze). HR won this race last year on the Gulfstream dirt, her preferred surface.

Dubai Majesty, second to High Resolve last year, is a danger under Theriot, as is Quisisana (Bejarano), who beat Sleep Tight a length as the stick in a prep for this.

THE $300,000 TURF (Gulfstream Park, 5:43 p.m. EST)

Soldier's Dancer,a 6-year-old gray gelding who is 12-for-32 for earnings of $1.5 million, got up in the last jump to beat Presious Passion at 7-5 in this race last year, and will be favored again under Cruz in this nine-furlong grass race for 4-and-up.

The horse to catch in the field of 11 grass specialists is Jet Propulsion, a $50,000 last-out claim by Wolfson. JP will break from the outside post under Leparoux.

Right next door in the 10-hole is Pickapocket, who may or may not be the stronger half of Wolfson's uncoupled entry. Desormeaux rides this 6-year-old closer.

Wicked Style, who might have run with Jet Propulsion, instead was shipped by trainer Arnold to Santa Anita for the Classic.

Duke of Mischief (Coa) is the lone 4-year-old in the field. Picou (Castellano) and Roman Tiger (Marquez) are dangerous closers at a price.

THE $300,000 FILLY/MARE TURF (Santa Anita, 6:07 p.m. EST)

You can pretty much toss a blanket over the eight mares in this nine-furlong race for 4 and up.

Trainer Tom Proctor ships in Closeout and Tight Precision from Florida for this, and they may wind up the first two choices from their inside posts.

Lezcano is in from south Florida to ride Closeout, who has lost her last five starts, and Rosario gets the call on Tight Precision, who steps up after winning her last two starts.

From a personal viewpoint, it will be hard to take Closeout as the chalk after watching her close for second at 28-1 as a John Piesen Hot Line special in the Breeders' Cup Day finale.                     
Pretty Unusual (Sutherland) exits a Grade 2 win over the plastic, but her two grass tries are not encouraging.

Century Park, Catsalot and You Lift Me Up finished inches apart when 1-2-3 in the California Cup over the course back in October.

THE $500,000 CLASSIC (Santa Anita, 6:38 p.m. EST)

The Usual Q.T. came from nowhere to win five straight stakes, including the Grade One Hollywood Derby, for trainer Cassidy, but all five were on grass. The 4-year-old gelding in fact is 6-for-7 on the green, 0-for-4 otherwise, yet he'll be favored under Espinoza in this nine-furlong race on the plastic for 4 and up.

As mentioned earlier, Compari is the speed of the race, but speed is 2-for-48 going long at the meet.

Palladio finished last at 49-1 in this race last year, when it was run at Gulfstream, but the 8-year-old gelding is much better on plastic, at least Woodbine classic, and he is first-time Smith.

Acclamation (Flores) was beaten a mere two lengths by The Usual Q.T. in the Hollywood Derby, but had the misfortune to draw the outside in the field of 11.

So thanks for tuning in, good luck this weekend, don't forget to check my online special for the Sunshine Millions, and we'll see you back here on Tuesday.

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