01/30/2011 8:47PM

Sunshine scrutiny


Caracortado (Saturday) and Switch (Sunday) stole the show at Santa Anita. It is time for a weekend stakes recap.

# There was belly-aching by supporters of Cost of Freedom after the odds-on sprinter was hounded into defeat in the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint (race 5) on Saturday.

While the insane early fractions (:20.80 and :42.72) would be enough to get most sprinters beat, it sounds shallow to grumble about pace. A six-furlong race with a six-figure purse is supposed to unfold at a fast clip. At odds-on, Cost of Freedom weakened to third.

Cost of Freedom ran well, arguably better than the winner. But give Amazombie credit. He was positioned only two lengths and two heads behind the opening quarter-mile after breaking from the rail. He chased the hot pace, finished the race in 1:07.28, and earned a 101 Beyer Figure over a main track that remains wickedly fast.

# Memo to trainer and part-owner Mike Machowsky – do not run Caracortado on a surface other than grass ever again. Caracortado's victory in the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf (race 6) was nothing short of brilliant.

Caracortado stamped himself as the top middle-distance turf horse in California after he unleashed a final three furlongs in 34 seconds and ran past Grade 1 winner The Usual Q.T. by a half-length in the mile and one-eighth race. Even if favorite Jeranimo had shown up (he finished a bad fourth), it would not have mattered.

Caracortado is now 2-for-2 on turf, and produced a wicked turn of foot in both his wins on grass. He is headed for a March 5 showdown with front-runner Sidney’s Candy in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile. Who do you like – the speed or the closer?

# Evening Jewel postponed retirement by winning the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff (race 7), but she remains well below the Grade 1 form she established last year. Her half-length victory in 1:42.25 earned an 89 Beyer. Notwithstanding the victory, Evening Jewel has not yet regained her best form.

# Most everyone expected Switch to win the seven-fulrong Grade 1 Santa Monica Stakes (race 7) on Sunday. She did more than win. Switch crushed. She won by three and one-half lengths in 1:20.70 while under a hold.

Now that 2010 Horse of the Year and top older female Zenyatta has retired, Switch is heir to the distaff throne. Next stop, two turns. Switch will aim for the Santa Margarita on March 12, or the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park on April 15.

The stakes schedule is heating up, and few are hotter than Caracortado and Switch. They stole the show on Sunshine Millions weekend at Santa Anita.