Updated on 09/17/2011 9:49AM

A day of promotions - and racing, too


ARCADIA, Calif. - Praise be! The Irishman saved the day for California. Were it not for the hard work of Adminniestrator and trainer Patrick Gallagher, along with a stylish ride from David Flores, West Coast breeders would have been shut out cold in the Sunshine Millions on Saturday.

As it stands, the humiliation will be hard for Californians to live with until the next Sunshine Millions, if there is a next Sunshine Millions. But even if the event goes the way of the dodo bird, bell-bottoms, and racing in Alabama, there was a whole pile of money passed around to people and horses who may never get that kind of chance again.

In terms of simple geography, the home teams won three races each at Santa Anita and Gulfstream. Yes, seven of the winners were bred in Florida, and only lonely Adminniestrator hailed from California. The lesson there is simple. California breeders need to work harder putting their product in the hands of Florida owners and trainers, because there are plenty of Floridians living in the barns of Santa Anita and Hollywood Park.

One of them is Music's Storm, owned by Aaron and Marie Jones, who lost a heartbreaking head-bob to Adminniestrator at the end of nine furlongs on the grass that almost lived up to its $500,000 purse. Neither horse deserved to lose, especially when they had to catch a world-class horse like Forbidden Apple in the final yards.

Making the last start of his career at the age of 8, Forbidden Apple was the only true marquee name on either coast. Now, after 31 quality starts for Arthur Appleton, his owner and breeder, Forbidden Apple will be remembered fondly as a horse who always seemed to be in the mix at the end of the big ones - an Arlington Million, the Breeders' Cup Mile, even far from home in Hong Kong. Upon dismounting last Saturday, Corey Nakatani paused to give the old boy an extra stroke on the neck for a job well done.

Adminniestrator, on the other hand, is only a babe of 6 and still has a lot of work ahead. Late in the day, Gallagher was still a bit dumbstruck by the Sunshine Millions windfall. But he was thinking clearly enough to plot a course that could give Adminniestrator a chance at prizes of more tradition and prestige.

"He's going better than ever now," Gallagher said. "And he's got that strong, steady gallop that just keeps going. I'd have to think about the longer grass races. Maybe the San Juan Capistrano."

Adminniestrator is by the Northern Dancer stallion Incinderator out of the Golden Eagle II mare Admiral Minnie, hence the conglomerated name. If nothing else, Adminniestrator won the right race for the home team. The Sunshine Millions Turf was co-sponsored by the Barretts sales company and the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association. Adminniestrator was bred by Fred Sahadi, the man who founded Barretts.

Were it not for the Thoroughbred Owners of California, however, Gallagher and Adminniestrator might never have met. It was three summers ago that Gallagher welcomed a group of backstretch visitors to his Del Mar barn as part of the ongoing TOC seminar program for prospective horse owners. One of them was La Jolla businessman Nico Nierenberg.

"A few months later, Nick gave me a call and talked about claiming some horses," Gallagher recalled. "You never know how those things will pan out. We claimed Adminniestrator for $50,000, laid him up for a while, and did pretty good with him. Now this."

The math defies logic. Half the horses in the Turf field had run at some point for claiming prices of modest amounts. Let's all add a zero and watch fairy tales come true. And because the events of the Sunshine Millions are restricted races, they will never be taken seriously except as part of a broader extravaganza that lures new and enthusiastic fans to the sport.

If the peripheral diversions of last Saturday are any indication, the fans targeted by Magna Entertainment Corp. are the same males, ages 18-35, who lie awake nights having "Bachelor" fantasies and can't wait for the next videotape in the "Girls Gone Wild" peep show series.

For the Sunshine Millions, Santa Anita was turned into a lurid, honky-tonk fleshpot, replete with "cheerleaders" on loan from a local arena football team, a flock of apprentice models hawking Hawaiian Tropic tanning products, and a bikini "contest" that had onlookers shouting "Take it off!" Obviously, they wanted a closer look at the bikinis.

It was Magna's original concept to let the models - all young women, by the way - lead the horses around the walking ring and onto the racetrack. Sanity prevailed (for once, the threat of insurance liability served a purpose), but the models still clogged the walking ring and brushed dangerously close to the animals, all keyed up and ready to race. It was an odd sight at the track: humans who had undergone more surgeries than the horses.

"It was a good day of racing, but it's too bad they had to resort to T&A for entertainment," said Trudy McCaffery, a director of both the TOC and CTBA. "There was a time racing could be presented with class. That doesn't seem to be the world we live in today."

Maybe so. But let's not give up just yet.