01/14/2016 1:32PM

Fundamental takes class drop for Sunshine Millions Turf

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Fundamental makes his 2016 debut in Saturday's Sunshine Millions Turf.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – He has a chance to pick up Eclipse Awards on Saturday night with Wavell Avenue and Big Blue Kitten, and he’s a finalist himself for top trainer, but before getting all gussied up for that, Chad Brown will try to pick up some walking-around money when he sends out Fundamental in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream Park.

Fundamental made good progress during the final months of 2015, including a close fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar last time out Nov. 28. He takes a dip in class to begin his 2016 campaign, but this potentially easy spot is no gimme, what with the high-class Reporting Star also in the lineup.

The Sunshine Millions Turf, which drew a field of 12, goes as race 10. It is complemented by the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf, race 5. Both are at 1 1/16 miles over a course that might get a good soaking Friday.

Pink Poppy, the defending race winner, is among the contenders in the Filly and Mare Turf, which drew just seven runners, including Comet Sixty Two from Brown’s barn.

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SUNSHINE MILLIONS TURF, Race 10

KEY CONTENDERS

Fundamental (Last 3 Beyers: 96-87-91)

◗ His form improved markedly midway through the year when blinkers were added to his equipment, resulting in an allowance win at Saratoga, a second in the Grade 2 Commonwealth Derby at Laurel, and then a good try at Del Mar.

◗ His worst performance of four since blinkers were added came on yielding ground at Keeneland, but a traffic-filled trip was likely more to blame than the ground.

◗ Interestingly, all of his prior seven starts have been at different tracks. This will mark the first time he has raced at the same place twice, as he began his career here last March.

Reporting Star (Last 3 Beyers: 100-89-98)

◗ He comes off a hard-fought victory over this course last month in the El Prado.

◗ He finished second in this race last year to Manchurian High but was a far better horse as the year progressed, highlighted by a victory in the Grade 2 Play the King at Woodbine and respectable performances against Grade 1 company in the Woodbine Mile and Canadian International.

Manchurian High (Last 3 Beyers: 95-92-90)

◗ Although he often runs at distances much farther than this, his best races do seem to be at middle distances when he has some pace to run into, including his win in this race one year ago.

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Old Time Hockey (Last 3 Beyers: 89-69-84)

◗ He scored an upset victory over Reporting Star in his last outing Nov. 7 at Gulfstream Park West, which marked his third victory in his last five starts.

FILLY AND MARE TURF, Race 5

key contenders

Pink Poppy (Last 3 Beyers: 50-90-87)

◗ Her last race can be excused, as it was her first time on dirt, and she obviously couldn’t handle it, finishing last of eight.

◗ She is back on her preferred surface for this, but she has lost all eight of her starts since last year’s victory in this race.

Lori’s Store (Last 3 Beyers: 91-95-83)

◗ One of two runners in this race whom trainer Marty Wolfson entered for Miller Racing, she finished with a rush to be third in the South Beach over this course last month.

E B Ryder (Last 3 Beyers: 85-88-87)

◗ She has not raced since August, when stablemate Lori’s Store beat her here in the Soaring Softly.

◗ She is attempting to end a 10-race losing streak, and she has a propensity to settle for minor awards, with five wins and 10 seconds in 28 starts, including one win and seven seconds in her last 14 races.

Comet Sixty Two (Last 3 Beyers: 70-71-87)

◗ She appears to be a cut below these, and her form around two turns is in doubt – most of her grass races have been sprints – but she has won twice in four starts since being claimed and moving to Brown’s barn.