01/27/2005 1:00AM

Draw, distance may hurt Midas Eyes

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Midas Eyes, winning the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga, is the most accomplished horse in the Classic but has never won a race beyond a mile.

Midas Eyes has never won beyond a mile and is poorly drawn in post 11 for the $1 million card.

Midas Eyes will attempt to accomplish what his stablemate Peace Rules could not do a year ago at Santa Anita: win the Classic as the favorite. Peace Rules finished fourth last year after bobbling briefly after the break.

Despite Midas Eyes's lack of experience around two turns or at the 1 1/8-mile distance of the race, his trainer, Bobby Frankel, remains confident Midas Eyes will win the Classic.

"He was beaten less than two lengths going a mile and one-eighth last year in the Strub, and was parked so wide he probably ran a mile and three-sixteenths, but he never stopped trying the entire way," Frankel said.

Midas Eyes, a Florida-bred, earned his lone Grade 1 victory last summer in Saratoga's seven-furlong Forego Handicap. He was also second in the Grade 1 De Francis Memorial, losing by a neck to Wildcat Heir, to close out his 2004 campaign.

Overcoming the disadvantage of post 11, especially tough given the short run to the first turn in nine-furlong races at Gulfstream, will be the job of Edgar Prado. He has been Midas Eyes's regular rider since the horse returned at Saratoga after a six-month hiatus following the Strub.

"Naturally I'd prefer we were breaking further inside," Prado said, "but he's got a lot of natural speed, and I think I should be able to get him over and in good position without having to use him too much going to the first turn."

For those looking to beat the favorite, the list of possible alternatives includes the Florida-breds Classic Endeavor, Second of June, and Limehouse, as well as California invaders Cozy Guy, Lava Man, and Supah Blitz, a Florida-bred.

Classic Endeavor brings a five-race win streak into the Classic, the last three of those victories coming for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. after Dutrow claimed him for $50,000 on Aug. 1. He closed out 2004 with wire-to-wire wins in Aqueduct's Stuyvesant and Queens County handicaps, both Grade 3 events, but he is not likely to make the lead so readily on Saturday.

Second of June vaulted to the top of the 3-year-old division with his win in the Grade 3 Holy Bull and game second behind Read the Footnotes in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth here last winter. But a condylar fracture he suffered in the Fountain of Youth kept Second of June sidelined until Dec. 27, when he returned to finish second under optional claiming and allowance conditions at Calder.

"This is not an easy race, and I hope he's tight enough having had just one start since last winter," said trainer Bill Cesare. "His mile work over the track since that race was great, and I expect he'll improve off his last. I'm just hoping he runs well."

Limehouse returned from a seven-month layoff to finish a fast-closing second in the six-furlong Mr. Prospector Handicap this month. Like Cesare, trainer Todd Pletcher would be more confident if his horse had another race under his belt.

"I thought he ran very well in the sprint, but I'd love to have one more under him since this race is at a mile and one-eighth," Pletcher said.

Limehouse also fared poorly at the post position draw and will break from No. 10, one spot inside Midas Eyes.

Lava Man has finished second in each of his last three starts, including the Grade 1 Malibu behind Rock Hard Ten. Cozy Guy has never run in a graded race, but beat Lava Man in the California Cup Classic. Supah Blitz, who began his career in south Florida, has captured two of four starts, including the Grade 2 Del Mar Breeders' Cup, since being purchased privately and turned over to trainer Doug O'Neill during the summer.

The field

Sunshine Millions Classic
Purse: $1 million; 1 1/8 miles

1Cozy Guy (CA)J. Santos1205-1
2Royal Place (FL)J. Valdivia Jr. 12250-1
3Musique Toujours (CA)J. Chavez12250-1
4Zakocity (FL)E. Coa12020-1
5Second of June (FL)C. Velasquez1204-1
6Classic Endeavor (FL)P. Valenzuela1225-1
7Lava Man (CA)J. Court1208-1
8Stockholder (CA)P. Day12210-1
9El Don (CA)R. Baze12020-1
10Limehouse (FL)J. Velazquez1206-1
11Midas Eyes (FL)E. Prado1225-2
12Supah Blitz (FL)R. Bejarano12220-1
Also eligible:
13Hear No Evil (FL)E. Castro12250-1
14Mister Fotis (FL)J. Chavez12020-1

* Odds by Art Gropper
* Television: 4-6 p.m. Eastern NBC