12/22/2008 12:00AM

Dibona points pair to Hal's Hope


MIAMI - Nominations are out for the eight Sunshine Millions races to be held simultaneously at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita on Jan. 24. And while the big day is still a month away, some trainers are already looking ahead, including Bobby Dibona, whose Actin Good is one of the 43 horses nominated for the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream.

But Dibona isn't sure Actin Good will get into the Sunshine Millions Classic, so he's considering running him in the Hal's Hope Handicap on Jan. 3, opening day, at Gulfstream. Actin Good could be joined in the Hal's Hope by stablemate Cuba, Dibona said.

Actin Good comes off a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Hooper at Calder on Dec. 13, beaten less than two lengths by Finallymadeit, while matching his career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 97.

"Although he's had a pretty good year and his last race at Calder was excellent, his one graded win came in 2007 and that's probably not going to be good enough to get him into the Classic field, which is almost certain to overfill," Dibona said.

The Grade 3 Hal's Hope shares top billing on Gulfstream's opening-day program with the Spectacular Bid Stakes for 3-year-olds. The Hal's Hope is being considered as a prep for the Sunshine Millions Classic by several locally based horsemen. Others nominated for both events include Delightful Kiss, Famous Patriot, and Finallymadeit.

Cuba is the star of the Dibona barn. Claimed for a bargain $18,000 at Gulfstream early last winter, the 7-year-old son of Not for Love has captured 7 of 12 starts in 2008, including the Maryland Million Classic, while earning nearly $400,000. He is coming off his worst effort of the year in the Alysheba Stakes at the Meadowlands, a race Dibona is inclined to toss out because of sloppy track conditions.

"He couldn't be training any better since he got down to Florida," said Dibona shortly after watching Cuba work a bullet six furlongs in 1:12.60 at Gulfstream on Sunday morning. "He's probably the better of the pair right now, although I thought Actin Good ran really well in the Hooper a couple of weeks ago. He broke from a bad post way on the outside, yet turning for home I thought he was going to win it all."

Go Between tops Sunshine Million list

The nomination list for the Sunshine Million Classic is outstanding and is topped by defending champion Go Between, who used his victory in the race earlier this year at Santa Anita as a springboard to a 2008 campaign that included a win in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic and second-place finishes in two other Grade 1 races. The Calder-based graded stakes winners Delightful Kiss and Smooth Air also are pointing to the event.

Along with the Classic, the other Sunshine Millions races to be decided at Gulfstream are the $500,000 Filly and Mare Turf, the $300,000 Filly and Mare Sprint, and the $250,000 Dash. The four events scheduled at Santa Anita are the $500,000 Turf, $500,000 Distaff, $300,000 Sprint, and the $250,000 Oaks.

Calder turf course gets a break

Turf racing will resume Friday at Calder. Racing secretary Mike Anifantis did not card any races on the grass for either Monday or Tuesday, which gave the course a four-day break to "green up and even out" over the holidays, he said.

The turf course has been one of the stars during the long season, having already played host to nearly 300 races in 2008 with another week remaining in the meet.