01/17/2012 3:38PM

Gulfstream Park: Mucho Macho Man tops Florida Sunshine Millions nominations

Barbara D. Livingston
Mucho Macho Man will make his 4-year-old debut in the $400,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Classic.

Nominations have been released for the Florida Sunshine Millions card on Jan. 28, and from the looks of things, it should be a very special day.

The Florida Sunshine Millions is the new nom de course for the original Sunshine Millions that annually pitted Florida-breds versus California-breds in a series of eight races run on the same afternoon, four at Gulfstream Park and four at Santa Anita. But when the California owners and breeders opted not to participate in the program this winter, the event was streamlined to six races restricted solely to Florida-breds, all of which will be run at Gulfstream.

The $400,000 Florida Sunshine Millions Classic will headline the card and is expected to draw a relatively small but select field, featuring the 4-year-old debut of Mucho Macho Man, who finished third behind Animal Kingdom in the 2011 Kentucky Derby and was one of only three horses along with Animal Kingdom and Shackleford to participate in all three legs of last year’s Triple Crown.

Mucho Macho Man was stopped on following his eventful seventh-place finish in the Belmont, but returned triumphantly with an easy allowance win going a mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 9. Trainer Kathy Ritvo and Mucho Macho Man’s connections have opted to take the conservative route to begin his 2012 season, choosing the restricted Sunshine Classic for his first start of the year rather than the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 11.

Mucho Macho Man could still have his hands full in the nine-furlong Classic, which also is expected to lure Adios Charlie, an impressive allowance winner here earlier in the meet in his first start since being sidelined by injury last summer at Saratoga; the speedy multiple stakes winner Turbo Compressor; and the multiple graded stakes winner Duke of Mischief, hero of last year’s $1 million Charlestown Classic.