01/17/2011 3:39PM

First Dude, Duke of Mischief eye Sunshine Millions

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Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Duke of Mischief, who won the Iselin at Monmouth Park last summer, is expected to make his 2011 debut in the Sunshine Millions Classic.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - A field of eight is shaping up for the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic, the richest of the three Sunshine Millions races to be run here on Jan. 29. The others are the $300,000 Filly and Mare Turf and the $200,000 Filly and Mare Sprint.

First Dude, runner-up in the 2010 Preakness, and Grade 2 winner Duke of Mischief top the prospective field for the 1 1/8-mile Classic, which is also expected to include the improving Birdrun, the veteran Dry Martini, Dream Maestro, Lucas Brady, Sincero, Cigar Man, and Tackleberry. Cigar Man would be the only West Coast representative in the lineup. The Sunshine Millions, for Florida-breds and California-breds, is run the same day at Gulfstream and Santa Anita.

First Dude is coming off an eighth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He finished third in the Belmont, third in the Travers, second in the Pennsylvania Derby, third in the Haskell, third in the Blue Grass, and fifth in the Kentucky Derby.

“I could run him in the Donn, but the purse is the same $500,000 for the Sunshine Millions, so it just makes sense to make things as easy as I can for him,” said Dale Romans, who trains First Dude for owner Donald Dizney.

Capt. Candyman Can almost ready

Capt. Candyman Can continues to work forwardly in preparation for his comeback later in the meet. Capt. Candyman Can has not started since finishing eighth in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita. He has been sidelined the past 14 1/2 months due to a chip in a knee.
Capt. Candyman Can worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.40 at Palm Meadows on Sunday, his sixth work and second bullet drill since arriving in south Florida for the winter.

“He’s doing well and looking good,” said trainer Ian Wilkes, who said he is deciding between the Gulfstream Park Sprint Handicap Feb. 12 or the Super Stakes at Tampa a week later for Capt. Candyman Can’s comeback spot.

Candyman Can registered his most important victory when capturing the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga via a disqualification during the summer of 2009. He also won the Grade 2 Hutcheson here earlier that year.

Wilkes also reports that defending Pan Am winner Bearpath has returned to training and could run before the end of the meet. Bearpath worked an easy half-mile in 51 seconds at Palm Meadows on Monday.

“He’s a gelding so we just freshened him up and will keep him around at 5,” said Wilkes. “This was just his second breeze since coming back.”

◗ The 87-year-old trainer George Handy registered his first win of the meet when the 8-year-old Gator’s Tracks capturd Sunday’s fifth race under Orlando Bocachica. Handy began his training career in 1946. His most noteworthy victory came in the 1981 Illinois Derby with Paristo, who finished third at 74-1 behind Pleasant Colony later that spring in the Preakness. Handy also won five training titles at Suffolk Downs, his first in 1956.

◗ Friday’s featured ninth race figures to be one of the most interesting 3-year-old allowance events of the session. Carded at 1 1/8 miles under entry-level conditions, the race drew a field of nine topped by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf runner-up Soldat, the Nick Zito-trained Dialed In, and champion Ashado’s baby brother Lauburu.

◗ D’Funnybone, who has not started since finishing seventh and last in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop in August, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.70 on Monday. The work was his fifth since arriving here in December. D’Funnybone won three Grade 2 stakes last year at 3, including the Hutcheson and Swale here. Giant Oak also worked five-eighths here Monday, covering the distance in 1:01 with his final quarter in 24.23. Giant Oak, idle since winning the Grade 1 Clark on Nov. 26, is expected to make his 2011 bow in the Grade 1 Donn. On Sunday, Giant Oak’s multiple-graded-stakes-winning stablemate Askbut I Won’ttell breeze a sharp six furlongs in 1:12 in preparation for her expected start here in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf.