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Gulfstream Park: Mucho Macho Man, Ron the Greek top attractions in Sunshine Millions
By Mike Welsch
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Mucho Macho Man, runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic to close out his outstanding 2012 campaign, will be the marquee name on Saturday’s Florida Sunshine Millions program at Gulfstream Park.
Mucho Macho Man will be back to defend his title in the $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic, the richest of six stakes restricted to Florida-breds on Saturday’s 11-race card. He’ll take on a group that includes Ron the Greek, runner-up in the 2012 Sunshine Millions Classic, and the Grade 1-placed Fort Loudon. Mucho Macho Man will be equipped with blinkers for the Classic, the first time he has worn them since finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Holy Bull here two years earlier.
Mucho Macho Man will receive a two-pound weight concession from Ron the Greek under the allowance conditions of the nine-furlong Classic. Ron the Greek carries top weight of 123 pounds as a result of his victory in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster last spring at Churchill Downs.
Other prominent names on the Sunshine Millions card include Grade 1 winner Emma’s Encore in the $150,000 Filly and Mare Sprint; Romacaca in the $150,000 Filly and Mare turf; Bahamian Squall in the $150,000 Sprint; as well as Doubles Partner and Teaks North in the $150,000 Turf.
Successful Song and My Pal Chrissy, first and third here last month in the Ocala Stakes, top a field of seven entered for the $300,000 Distaff.
The first two finishers from last year’s Filly and Mare Turf, Hooh Why and Romacaca, will also hook up in a rematch on Saturday. Romacaca already avenged that setback when capturing the South Beach Stakes here earlier in the meeting with Hooh Why finishing a game third.
“She’s doing very well, she’s strong, has been training excellent and worked good the other day,” said Danny Miller, who trains Romacaca for owner Frank Calabrese. “She’s coming into the race great.”
Among the five others who will try the Filly and Mare Turf is Regalo Mia, whose promising career was interrupted last summer when she contracted pneumonia while in California to compete in the American Oaks. Regalo Mia, who was beaten a nose and a neck in graded stakes prior to her illness, has started twice since returning to action this fall, most recently finishing ninth in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs.
“I honestly can’t explain her performance in Kentucky,” said Michelle Nihei, who trains Regalo Mia. “She was training well up into that race. But we’ve kind of gotten her back on track since getting her down to Florida and there’s no question who we’ve got to beat on Saturday, definitely Romacaca.”
A full field of 12 was drawn for the six-furlong Sprint, topped by Bahamian Squall, who will break from post 8 under the red-hot Luis Saez. Bahamian Squall scored a convincing 3 1/2-length victory under Saez in the Sunshine State Stakes here on Dec. 2. Close It Out, who ran down Bahamian Squall to upset Calder’s Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap, and Little Drama, fifth as the even-money favorite in the Sunshine State, are among the other key contenders in the Sprint.
Emma’s Encore, winner of the Grade 1 Prioress last summer at Saratoga, makes her first start in the Filly and Mare Sprint since finishing far back in Keeneland’s Grade 2 TCA Stakes on Oct. 6. The speed-packed lineup also includes R Holiday Mood and Honey Chile.
The multiple Grade 1 winner Teaks North will race in the name of trainer Michelle Nevin in the Turf after finishing ninth when returning from an 11th-month layoff for Rick Dutrow in the El Prado here on Dec. 22. Teaks North has not won a race since capturing Monmouth Park’s Grade 1 United Nations in July 2011.
The multiple Grade 1-placed Doubles Partner has come back east after finishing third behind Data Link in Hollywood Park’s Grade 1 Citation Handicap in his 2012 finale.
just sat Zenyatta's daughters (Eblouissante) win 2nd race. WOW I mean WOW came around turn and scared crap out of other fillies as she blew by. Big mama like her mother. Should be great for racing
What a garbage card... Looks like any Sayturday at Calder.
Let's go mucho macho man.
Good Luck and safe runing Mucho.
liked it better when it was california vs florida horses
I like these races for competition and fun but not as a bettor. Have to wait to Sunday and hope get a better card. I love big fields. MSW 5F turf all day with 12.
Emma's encore front and center!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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