01/29/2011 2:12PM

Sunshine Millions Saturday

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Let's take a look at some of today's major stakes races, including the bi-coastal Sunshine Millions showdown.

Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint (Gulfstream - Race 8 - Track FAST - Scratch #6 SWEETLABYE):

AMEN HALLELUJAH is the deserving favorite based on her excellent record in 2010.  A multiple Grade 2 winner, including the Davona Dale over this surface, Amen Hallelujah was also second in the Grade 1 Acorn.  Unfortunately, she hasn't raced since the Acorn, and has reportedly been out with a cannon bone injury.  The injury-induced layoff, coupled with the depth in this field, may make Amen Hallelujah a vulnerable favorite.
Instead, I'll go with AEGEAN, a Wesley Ward-trained filly that defeated a pair of next-out winners when taking the Dream Supreme Stakes at Churchill Downs on November 6.  One of those next-out winners, beaten favorite Nicole H., has gone on to take two stakes races at Aqueduct with 99 and 100 Beyer Speed Figures.  Aegean goes turf-to-dirt following a disappointing effort at Tampa Bay Downs, but has good tactical speed, and should be in contention when the field swings into the stretch.
Selections:  Aegean, Feel That Fire, Amen Hallelujah

Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf (Gulfstream - Race 9 - Turf Firm - Rail 72 Feet - Scratch #6 WILD MIA, #14 HONEYMOON GIRL, #15 JET BLUE GIRL):

Hate to chalk out, but I think that DYNASLEW is simply the best horse in the race.  She faced much-tougher competition throughout the majority of 2010 (Proviso, Shared Account, etc.), and wasn't disgraced, winning a pair of graded stakes races in New York.  In her most recent start, the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland, a race that went faster than the Grade 1 mile turf race for males on the same card, Dynaslew finished evenly while probably being a bit overmatched.  She might work out a good stalking trip, and the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf looks like a nice spot for her return.
Selections:  Dynaslew, Trip for A.J., Scolara

Sunshine Millions Classic (Gulfstream - Race 10 - Track Fast - Scratch #10 HONOUR THE DEPUTY):

FIRST DUDE really deserves one, doesn't he?  He's still eligible for a 'N2L' race somewhere, but he's butted heads with some of the biggest names on some of the biggest stages.  He was third in the Blue Grass, second in the Preakness, third in the Belmont, third in the Haskell, third in the Travers, and second in the Pennsylvania Derby.  A hulking son of Stephen Got Even, First Dude is one of the rare "speedy plodders."  He likes to race on the lead, but lacks the explosiveness to create separation from himself and the closers at the most crucial point of the race, the final turn.  Thus, he is often passed while under a full-out drive, only to come back with determination once that big motor finally gets revved.  Perhaps he's growing into that massive body, and he should be on or near the lead today.  Is he a great bet at a short price against several quality multiple winners?  Probably not.  But, I do think he finally gets it done.
Selections:  First Dude, Duke of Mischief, Tackleberry

Sunshine Millions Sprint (Santa Anita - Race 5 - Track Condition and Changes N/A):

Alright, enough with the chalk for now.  COST OF FREEDOM is obviously the horse to beat at odds-on.  The rejuvenated sprinter has won his last three races, including a monstrous track record-breaking 115 Beyer in the five-furlong Miles Tyson Stakes at Hollywood last time out.  He hasn't raced on dirt since 2006, but he's won on the surface and, with an alert break, will be skipping along at the front of the back down the backstretch.  The question is whether he'll be pressured enough for the closers to have a chance in the stretch.  I'll gamble that he'll face some heat from DANCE WITH GABLE and AMAZOMBIE.  That may make Cost of Freedom vulnerable, and give SMART ENOUGH, the Miles Tyson runner-up, a chance at redemption.
Smart Enough, thrice-claimed throughout his career, has turned into a reliable graded sprinter on turf and synthetics.  Now, he'll have to prove his mettle on dirt.  It's a big question, to be sure, but he'll be a nice price, and may benefit from today's extra furlong.
Selections:  Smart Enough, Cost of Freedom, Asperity

Sunshine Millions Distaff (Santa Anita - Race 7 - Track Condition and Changes N/A):

EVENING JEWEL had a wonderful season at three, but she seemed to lose some of her zest for racing during the latter part of 2010.  Although third in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on grass and the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on dirt, she just didn't show the same punch that propelled her to four graded wins earlier in the year. 
Perhaps ALL DUE RESPECT can step up and take it to the favorite in this spot.  A speed-crazy filly for the early part of her career, she showed a new dimension by rating off the pacesetter in her most recent start, a victory in an optional claimer over this surface.  There's plenty of speed for her to stalk today, and she seems to be coming to hand nicely for the underrated Kathy Walsh. 
Selections:  All Due Respect, Briecat, Warren's Blossom

Quick and Dirty Picks:
Sunshine Millions Turf:  Caracortado, Jeranimo, Soul Candy
John B. Connally:  Stately Victor, Southern Anthem, Schramsberg
Manatee:  Hyperlink, C C's Pal, Venado

You can also watch my video analysis of the major stakes races, along with drf.com Handicapper Mike Beer, at this link:

http://www.drf.com/events/2011-sunshine-millions-gulfstream-and-santa-anita

More importantly, who do you like this weekend?  I want to know.

Best of luck,

Dan