Updated on 09/17/2011 9:47AM

Forbidden Apple rotten favorite


ARCADIA, Calif. - Having a tough time getting enthused about the Sunshine Millions cheerleaders? Not attracted by the skydivers and beach parties?

Do not fret. The first Sunshine Millions program will include live horse racing, real wagering, and the best bet in racing - a $1 pick four. In fact, for the first time the bet will be offered twice on the same Santa Anita card - races 2-5, followed by races 7-10.

So what are you waiting for? It is time to start handicapping the Sunshine Millions races at Santa Anita, starting with the second leg, the first leg of the first pick four.

Sunshine Millions Turf

A competent handicapper should be able to identify the favorite most of the time. In the $500,000 Turf, it is obvious - Forbidden Apple. Winner of the Grade 1 Manhattan in 2001, Forbidden Apple is the class of the field in the 1 1/8-mile race. Nevertheless, class is only one aspect of handicapping, and not even the most important. The paramount consideration in any analysis has to be current form.

In that regard, legitimate questions surround 7-5 favorite Forbidden Apple, who bombed in his subsequent start after running fourth in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Hammered to 1-2 in a restricted stakes in Texas, Forbidden Apple offered little resistance and finished a flat third. The race was expected to be Forbidden Apple's final start, and he was sent to the farm where he will stand stud. He stayed on the farm for a month, remained in steady training, and acted like a horse that wanted one more start. He gets it Saturday.

Based on his physical appearance, the real Forbidden Apple figures to show up. An 8-year-old, he acts happy, his coat is shiny, and he looks ready for a race. And yet, skeptical handicappers must wonder whether a single workout in the seven weeks since his last start is sufficient preparation. Then there is the millionaire's record away from his favorite racetrack. At Belmont Park, Forbidden Apple has six wins and four seconds from 13 starts. His record elsewhere: 17-2-2-7.

Forbidden Apple would be a fitting winner, but his 7-5 odds mandate bettors take a stand against him. The two obvious alternatives are Miesque's Approval and Mayakovsky. Neither is as accomplished as Forbidden Apple, but the future is bright for both lightly raced 4-year-olds. They enter the Turf in strong form, both have earned credible speed figures to compete in the Turf, and are supported by winning connections. Music's Storm and Turkish Prize will rally late.

Sunshine Millions Oaks

The second leg of the Sunshine Millions pick four offers another vulnerable favorite in Atlantic Ocean. A graded stakes winner on turf and dirt, Atlantic Ocean repeatedly has shown she prefers a route of ground. At seven furlongs, the $250,000 Oaks is a one-turn sprint in which Atlantic Ocean will be up against it.

Second favorite Ivanavinalot has trained super for her first start since October, and the 5-for-6 filly is the logical alternative. And yet, she is anything but a cinch. She has been off since October, and will face a blazing pace scenario first start back, led by Humorous Lady. It is possible the speedballs will run each other into the ground, which would set the race up for a presser such as Pocketfullofpesos. The hot fractions would have most favored deep closer Elegant Designer, but that one is expected to scratch. This race could produce a meltdown, and pick four players are advised to go as deep as they can afford to go. It's the kind of race that has upset written all over it.

Sunshine Millions Sprint

Is Echo Eddie the same horse who nearly won a Group 1 last March in Dubai? Could be, though he must improve off the 99 Beyer he earned in his comeback to win the six-furlong, $500,000 Sprint. Listed at 6-5, Echo Eddie's odds will float up because entrymate Disturbingthepeace is expected to scratch. That leaves Echo Eddie pressing Giovannetti. Both have earned pace and speed figures that make them logical contenders. And yet another front-runner - Captain Squire - may be the best gamble in the pick four sequence.

Captain Squire was relatively fast last summer, earning triple-digit Beyers in three straight. Only two other Sprint starters (Echo Eddie, and 10-year-old Men's Exclusive) have earned three consecutive Beyers exceeding 100. Captain Squire fits on speed. He also fits on pace figures, having earned above-par figures winning a Grade 2 sprint last summer. Captain Squire, a gelding, fits on pace and class. As for current form, Captain Squire has not raced since August. And yet he has trained sensationally for his return. Captain Squire is dead fit, and ready to roll for hot trainer Jeff Mullins.

At 6-1 odds, Captain Squire figures for a good trip right behind Giovannetti and Echo Eddie. He will be among the first wave of attackers, and can win the Sprint with a pressing trip. A pick four bettor could do worse than use 6-1 Captain Squire as a key horse in the series. Longshot contenders include Joey Franco, who has trained super for his comeback but must improve; and Jersey Rebel, who broke like a shot for the first time in his career last time and scored a minor allowance upset. Similar to Joey Franco, Jersey Rebel will have to run the race of his career to defeat Captain Squire.

Sunshine Millions Distaff

With a purse of $750,000, the 1 1/16-mile Distaff is the richest race on the Santa Anita card. It also is the least interesting. The California contingent of fillies and mares is weak. Cee's Elegance may be the best of the locals, but her pace and speed figures are soft. Rather, Florida-breds Smok'n Frolic and Svea Dahl figure to dominate the race. They are graded stakes winners with contrasting styles, and do not figure to get in each other's way. A pick four player only needs to go two deep in the main ticket.