01/23/2003 12:00AM

The Judge Sez Who - he's classic


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - A new chapter in racing history will be written Saturday as the inaugural running of the unique Sunshine Millions unfolds here at Gulfstream Park and across the country at Santa Anita. In some respects the program may be termed a success even prior to the competition because of the cooperation required from the breeders and horsemen of California and Florida, who have joined in the sponsorship of this undertaking.

Racing's many organizations and groups are not known for their enthusiasm over working with their counterparts, so the widespread acceptance of the Sunshine Millions within the industry is encouraging. The eight races, as drawn, appear competitive and it will be interesting to note public reaction.

Most of the Sunshine Million races are well subscribed, so traffic and racing luck may be genuine factors on Saturday. Weather and the effects of shipping are other possible considerations for some of the participants.

Probably not for The Judge Sez Who, however. This hard-hitting handicap star, undertaking his most ambitious assignment in the $1 million Classic, is one of the most consistent horses in training. In 20 career starts, the only time he failed to bring back a check was in his debut.

With earnings of more than $650,000, The Judge Sez Who has made a success of racing. But trainer Milton Wolfson, noting the 4-year-old colt by Judge TC is just starting to mature, suspects his best days are ahead. The Judge comes to the Classic off a rousing victory in the Fred W. Hooper Handicap at Calder and appears to be in peak form.

"He is honest and tries hard all the time," Wolfson says. "He was closer to the pace than usual in the Hooper and we'll probably play it the same way Saturday. We drew a good post [No. 3] and that should help. There are some nice horses here from California but Best of the Rest has always been the toughest opponent and that's probably still true."

The Judge Sez Who is owned and was bred by Richard Simon, who sold a flourishing insurance business in Chicago and moved to Florida to launch a commercial breeding operation. He has some 250 mares in production, including Mandy Mack, whom he acquired for $20,000 carrying The Judge Sez Who. Simon races the horses he cannot sell, and when The Judge was returned to him because of a stifle problem after his sale for $10,000, he sent the colt to Wolfson.

Wolfson, a Philadelphian, served in the Korean War. Later he studied animal sciences and farm management at the University of Illinois, spent a year assisting the colorful Larry MacPhail, and then worked for Paul Serdar, a former racing commissioner who was into commercial breeding. Wolfson took out a trainer's license in 1965 and trained the few horses Serdar couldn't sell.

He set up a tack business in the early 1970's that is still operating under the direction of his daughter. Some 25 years ago he settled in Florida and has had a public stable at the Miami tracks ever since.

If The Judge Sez Who performs to expectations in the Classic, Wolfson will consider bringing him back next month in the $500,000 Donn Handicap, one of the major features of the winter season. Here comes The Judge.