01/23/2009 12:00AM

Delightful Kiss stuck outside

Bob Coglianese
The Hal's Hope (above) was the third Grade 3 win in the last five starts for Delightful Kiss, who runs in Saturday's $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Big Brown became the first horse to win a race from post 12 going 1 1/8 miles since the main track at Gulfstream Park was reconfigured in 2005 when he cruised to an easy victory in the 2008 Florida Derby. Barring any scratches, Delightful Kiss will attempt to become the second to accomplish that difficult feat as the likely favorite in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic on Saturday. The race is the highlight of the eight-race Sunshine Millions program, to be held on Saturday at the Magna Entertainment Corp. tracks Gulfstream and Santa Anita.

The Sunshine Millions, the brainchild of Magna's Frank Stronach, pits California-breds and Florida-breds in a series of eight races offering total purses of $3.6 million. The Classic highlights the Gulfstream portion of a program that also includes the $500,000 Filly and Mare Turf, $300,000 Filly and Mare Sprint, and $250,000 Dash. The four Santa Anita stakes are the $500,000 Distaff, $500,000 Turf, $300,000 Sprint, and $250,000 Oaks.

All eight Sunshine Millions races will be shown live on HRTV, while Florida Sports Network will air the final three races of the series live from 5 to 6 p.m. Eastern. Post time for the Classic is scheduled for 5:45.

"I can't change the post, so I might as well be happy with it," said former jockey Pete Anderson, who trains the homebred Delightful Kiss for the Hobeau Farm.

Delightful Kiss does his best running from far off the pace, so post 12 with its short run to the first turn may not be as big a detriment to him as it might be for others. In his last start, the one-mile Hal's Hope here three weeks ago, Delightful Kiss dropped back to last, more than a dozen lengths off the pace in a 14-horse field, before circling everybody en route to a three-length victory. The Hal's Hope was the third Grade 3 win in the last five starts for Delightful Kiss, who also finished second behind Einstein in the Grade 2 Clark and fourth in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Marathon during that span.

"The more horses in the field, the more jamming and more problems you can run into, and you've got to be lucky to weave your way through, no matter what post you start from," said Anderson.

Calvin Borel, who became Delightful Kiss's regular rider after guiding him to victory in the Turfway Park Fall Challenge at 1 1/2 miles in September, will again have the call.

Post position aside, Anderson's chief concern could be the lack of speed in the race. Finallymadeit figures to control the pace from the rail, as he did in the Hal's Hope, with horse-for-the-course Hey Byrn likely to press the issue from the outset.

Macho Again will make his local debut for trainer Dallas Stewart, who said he lost no training time with the horse during a quarantine of his barn at Fair Grounds earlier this month due to an outbreak of equine herpesvirus. Macho Again had a noteworthy 3-year-old campaign that included victories in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at Saratoga and the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs, plus second-place finishes in both the Preakness and Grade 2 Super Derby. The season ended on a bit of a down note when he finished far back on grass in the Woodchopper at Fair Grounds on Dec. 20.

"We didn't have a lot of options so we tried him on the turf and he ran okay," said Stewart. "If we didn't run him in that spot he'd have gone four months without a start."

Macho Again has encountered tough luck in several of his more recent starts, including the Travers, where he clipped heels and nearly fell as the field turned into the stretch.

"A clean trip is key for any horse, not just mine," said Stewart, who will turn the reins over to Kent Desormeaux once again in the Classic.

Hey Byrn has won 4 of his 5 starts at Gulfstream, including the Grade 3 Holy Bull at 3 and a high-priced optional claimer here less than two weeks ago.

Finallymadeit faded to finish eighth in the Hal's Hope but has had little trouble carrying his abundant speed nine furlongs in the past, having won both the Grade 3 Fred Hooper and the Carl G. Rose Classic going 1 1/8 miles last fall at Calder.

Atoned has been idle since winning the Grade 3 Pegasus at the Meadowlands on Oct. 24 but is training forwardly for his 2009 bow, according to trainer Todd Pletcher.

Dry Martini won the Grade 3 Stuyvesant over a muddy track at Aqueduct in November and is back under the care of trainer Barclay Tagg after spending most of last year with Bill Turner Jr.

Medzendeekron and Nima's Pad are the only California-breds in the Classic. Neither has won a race on dirt.

Dream Maestro, Palladio, It's a Bird, and Famous Patriot complete the field.