01/19/2004 12:00AM

Classic lures Peace Rules


ARCADIA, Calif. - Peace Rules, the winner of the Haskell Invitational and the third-place finisher in last year's Kentucky Derby, was one of 85 horses entered Monday for the eight Sunshine Millions races that will be run Saturday at Santa Anita Park and Gulfstream Park.

, who won the Malibu Stakes on Santa Anita's opening day, Dec. 26. Both Peace Rules and Southern Image were bred in Florida, but they are based in California.

The Classic is one of four races that will be run at Santa Anita. The others are the $500,000 John Deere Filly and Mare Turf, the $300,000 Nextel Filly and Mare Sprint, and the $250,000 NATC Dash. The four races to be run at Gulfstream are the $500,000 Ocala Breeders' Sales Distaff, the $500,000 Franks Farms Turf, the $300,000 Padua Stables Sprint, and the $250,000 Ocala Stud Oaks. Total purses for the eight races is $3.6 million.

Seven of the eight Sunshine Millions races will be shown live by NBC-Sports in a two-hour telecast beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern.

This is the second Sunshine Millions, an event, whose restricted format and high purse structure have generated debate. Trainers, jockeys, and owners of eligible horses embrace the lucrative prize money, but the races have siphoned top runners away from established stakes races at both Santa Anita and Gulfstream.

Santa Anita's Sunshine Millions races are the third through the sixth on Saturday's card. The 1 1/8-mile Classic, which goes as the sixth, drew 14 runners, including two placed on the also-eligible list. Bobby Frankel, the trainer of Peace Rules, also entered Midas Eyes, but both will not run. Frankel said Midas Eyes was likely to await Santa Anita's Strub Stakes Feb. 7.

Frankel named John Velazquez on Midas Eyes, even though Velazquez will be at Gulfstream on Saturday. This was done to allow Jerry Bailey, who is named on Peace Rules, to move to Midas Eyes should Frankel decide to run Midas Eyes instead of Peace Rules. That, however, is a back-up scenario; the plan is to run Peace Rules.

Peace Rules completed his serious preparation for the Classic by working six furlongs in 1:12.60 on Sunday morning at Hollywood Park. Southern Image flew five furlongs in 58.80 seconds on Monday morning at Santa Anita.

"He's doing great," said Mike Machowsky, who trains Southern Image.

Also in the Classic is the popular California-bred Continental Red, who was also being considered for the Turf at Gulfstream. "We decided to run here because we were able to retain Patrick Valenzuela," said Wes Fitzpatrick, who bred Continental Red with his wife, Sharon, in whose name Continental Red races. "We need someone who is familiar with the horse. He's got a few little quirks."

The Filly and Mare Sprint, at six furlongs, begins Santa Anita's portion of the program. Madame Pietra, who won the race last year at Gulfstream, is making her first start since August and her first since being transferred to Frankel. Barbara O'Brien, Bear Fan, Icantgoforthat, and Super High are other prominent names in the field of 11.

The Dash, at six furlongs for 3-year-olds, has a field of 10, including Don'tsellmeshort, who last year won three California-bred stakes races. Florida's top representatives are Ice Wynnd Fire and Saint Afleet, both of whom are based in California. Ice Wynnd Fire worked five furlongs in 59.60 seconds on Monday at Hollywood for Frankel.

The wide-open Filly and Mare Turf, at 1 1/8 miles, has 11 runners, including Atlantic Ocean, Fencelineneighbor, Valentine Dancer, and California Cup winner Moscow Burning.

There will be a $1 pick four on Santa Anita's Sunshine Millions races.

Gulfstream's four events will be races 7 through 10 on its Saturday card.

The lightly raced and unbeaten Pesci, who was bred in Florida but has raced exclusively in California, makes her first stakes start in the Distaff, at 1 1/16 miles for older fillies and mares. Florida-bred Smok'n Frolic, who won the Distaff last year when it was run at Santa Anita, drew post 10 in the field of 12.

Fourteen horses, including two also-eligibles, entered the Turf, a 1 1/8-mile grass race for older horses. Florida-bred Man From Wicklow, the winner of the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap last year, will be making his first start since April for Rick Violette, his owner and trainer. Man From Wicklow drew post 12. His rivals include Florida-bred Silver Tree, who was a close fourth in the Hollywood Derby in his last start.

The Sprint, at six furlongs, has just seven runners. Florida-bred Shake You Down, who was third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and most recently captured Aqueduct's Gravesend Handicap, will be a heavy favorite.

The Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs, drew just six runners. The likely favorite is Silent Sighs, a California-bred filly trained in California by Julio Canani; she drew the rail. Silent Sighs won the California Breeders' Champion Stakes on Dec. 27, and was scratched from Monday's Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita in order to run in the Sunshine Millions.

"This gives her an extra five days between races," Canani said.