01/16/2009 12:00AM

Abrams leads the charge to Florida


ARCADIA, Calif. - Thank goodness horseman Barry Abrams has a team of California-breds bound for the Sunshine Millions races at Gulfstream Park next Saturday. Otherwise, the state would barely be represented in four of the eight races in the lucrative series for California-breds and Florida-breds.

There is no shortage of California-breds aiming for the four stakes at Santa Anita, but only 14 California-breds were pre-entered for the four stakes at Gulfstream Park. The $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream drew only three California-breds, and one of them, Unusual Suspect, is scheduled to stay in California for the $500,000 Sunshine Million Turf at Santa Anita.

Abrams, an owner, trainer, and breeder, will have horses in the four Gulfstream Park races as well as at least two races at Santa Anita. Abrams has a motive for the Gulfstream Park invasion. As a co-owner and breeder of many progeny by leading California stallion Unusual Heat, Abrams is trying to promote the stallion and show that his foals can be as effective on a dirt track as they have been on California's synthetic main tracks.

"I want to run on the dirt," Abrams said. "I don't think he's just a synthetic-surface sire. We're running for big money. How can you lose?"

Unusual Heat finished 2008 with progeny earnings of $5,827,513, an all-time record for a California-based stallion. Abrams will take at least four horses by Unusual Heat, and maybe five, to Gulfstream Park.

Medzendeekron will be seeking his first stakes win in the Classic; Bel Air Sizzle, who was second in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks in August, is bound for the $500,000 Filly and Mare Turf; Flashover will make her stakes debut in the $300,000 Filly and Mare Sprint; and the maiden winners Mensa Heat and Too Much Heat are candidates for the $250,000 Dash.

"They'll all be 10- or 15-1," Abrams said. "I want to see if they can run on dirt. Bel Air Sizzle has a chance, but Wild Promises looks unbeatable."

Of the California-breds not trained by Abrams, All Saint, the winner of the California Breeders' Champion Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 26, is a candidate for the Dash. Mistical Plan, the winner of the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder last July, will start in the Filly and Mare Sprint.

Mistical Plan is the richest California-bred among the pre-entered horses, with 5 wins in 15 starts and earnings of $790,290. Earlier in her career, she won the 2007 Sunshine Millions Oaks and the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks.

By comparison, the richest Florida-bred pre-entered in the eight races is In Summation, who has earned $1,175,166 and is a candidate for the Sprint at Santa Anita. He is also being considered for the $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 25.

Abrams and his partners, including his brother David and owner Madeline Auerbach, have gambled heavily on Unusual Heat's progeny. A big day at either Santa Anita or Gulfstream Park could give the stallion a strong position on the state's 2009 progeny earnings list.

At Santa Anita, Abrams plans to have two runners - Unusual Suspect in the $500,000 Turf and Spenditallbaby in the $500,000 Distaff.

While the number of California-breds bound for Florida is weak, there were 40 pre-entered for races at Santa Anita. The strongest support came in the Sprint and Distaff, which each drew 12 California-breds. Far fewer will start, with some horses being pointed for graded stakes or other Sunshine Millions races.

Medzendeekron, for example, was also pre-entered in the Sprint and Turf at Santa Anita.