01/31/2012 10:29AM

Gulfstream Park: Cajun Breeze rewards confidence with Sunshine Millions Sprint performance


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Cajun Breeze nearly pulled off the biggest upset on Saturday’s Florida Sunshine Millions program when he finished second, a half-length behind Soaring Stocks, at odds of 18-1 in the Sprint. Cajun Breeze came into the race off a maiden win and with just three starts under his belt.

“I guess it was kind of a gutsy move running him in there off a maiden win,” said Michael Yates who trains Cajun Breeze for the partnership of Shadybrook Farm Inc. and Robert Eversole. “But I didn’t want to stretch him out in distance and step him up in class at the same time, so I thought we’d try the Sprint since it was a restricted race.”

Although the Sunshine Sprint was restricted to Florida-breds, the field was loaded with talent, led by Apriority, who is a multiple graded stakes winner, Grade 1 placed, and a participant in last year’s Breeders’ Cup.

Cajun Breeze on the other hand had run only against maidens prior to the Sunshine Millions. Now 4, he was stopped on for over a year after finishing third when launching his career at Calder near the end of his 2-year-old season. Cajun Breeze finally came back to finish a solid second behind the odds-on Ninja Blade on Dec. 10 before returning to earn his diploma three weeks later going 6 1/2 furlongs in his 3-year-old finale.

“His shins were bugging him after his one start at 2 and they became kind of a chronic issue, so we gave him all the time off he needed,” said Yates. “He’s got more talent than any horse I’ve ever trained, so I wanted to give him plenty of time to heal. And it was probably a blessing in disguise he got beat the first time back off the layoff because it gave us an opportunity to get two good races into him before the stakes.”

Yates said he would probably look to stretch Cajun Breeze out a little farther while dropping him back into allowance company for his next start.