01/27/2005 12:00AM

Millions brings sunshine in winter

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NEW YORK - Whether you like it as it is, or feel it can be something really special with some tinkering, there is no question that a big event like the is most welcome in the month of January. And Saturday's third edition of the Sunshine Millions, a concept that pits California-breds against Florida-breds in eight rich, alternating stakes events at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita worth a total of $3.6 million, dominates the national stakes schedule.

Classic

Midas Eyes has been away two months, is returning at the distance of 1 1/8 miles at which he is a huge question, and drew the 11 post, which at Gulfstream now means a fairly short run to the first turn. Midas Eyes is also the only truly proven Grade 1 horse in this field, which is why he still might be the favorite. But for the reasons mentioned, Midas Eyes is a low-priced horse worth taking a swing against. If he wins, I lose.

I like Second of June, whom I expect to improve considerably off his recent first start back from a long layoff necessitated by cannon bone surgery. Second of June ran well to lose by just a neck in his comeback, and even though he earned only a moderate Beyer Speed Figure of 100 in that race, that number was almost certainly adversely affected by an extremely slow early pace.

Despite having an abbreviated campaign last year at 3, Second of June showed immense potential. In January, he earned a heady Beyer Figure of 111 winning the Holy Bull, leaving subsequent Florida Derby winner Friends Lake nearly 13 lengths back in third. Despite improving to a 113 in his next and final start of the year, the Fountain of Youth, Second of June came out on the short end of a memorable battle with Read the Footnotes. A couple of strong works since his return race suggests Second of June is poised to return to that kind of Beyer level soon, and if he does it on Saturday, his opponents will be in very deep trouble.

Turf

He won't be 41-1 as he was when he narrowly missed last time out in the Grade 1 Citation Handicap, but A to the Z is as good as hands can make him right now, and is still the play here. And with Grade 1 winner Star Over the Bay, and the Grade 1-placed Silver Tree in the field, A to the Z should still be an acceptable price.

Since moving to turf, and especially since moving to trainer Paula Capestro last summer, A to the Z has become a vastly more effective performer. On dirt, the best A to the Z could do was Beyer in the low 80's. He has earned triple-digit Beyers on turf in his last three starts, including a 103 when he dominated the California Cup Mile two starts back and a 111 most recently when beaten a half-length in the Citation by Leroidesanimaux, who is one of the top two or three turf horses in the nation.

Moreover, with Star Over the Bay perhaps needing a race in his first start since the Breeders' Cup, and at risk of hooking up early with Skywalker Red, the stretch-running A to the Z could be set up nicely by a pace to his liking.

Sprint

Shake You Down is looking for a repeat victory in this race, but he was in much better form last year than he is now, and I'm going with Green Team.

Green Team is logical off two stakes wins in northern California in his last three starts, and a second in this race last year. He is also attractive because he is effective going early or coming from off the pace. But what I really like about him in this spot is that his rail draw forces his hand and makes him have to go early. That's good, because he can make the lead, and on the front end is how his two recent stakes wins were accomplished. And in those wins, he earned a career-best Beyer of 113 and a near-career best of 110.

Saturday

SANTA ANITA: SUNSHINE MILLIONS SPRINT
4 and up, California or Florida breds, 6 furlongs
Post: Eastern-4:25 p.m., Central-3:25 p.m., Mountain-2:25 p.m., Pacific-1:25 p.m.; Arcadia, Ca., forecast: Partly cloudy, 56 degrees

PPHORSELAST 3 BEYERSODDS
1Green Team1131011107-2
2Don'tsellmeshort84797220-1
3Revello8887978-1
4Bourbon N Blues60794730-1
5My Cousin Matt77107999-2
6Onebadshark9910610312-1
7Areyoutalkintome99961085-2
8Greg's Gold728910130-1
9Shake You Down72103818-1
10Full Moon Madness103891086-1
11Red Warrior92868830-1
12Bang87n/an/a20-1
13Bilo94909220-1

Most recent Beyers listed first; odds by Michael Hammersly

SANTA ANITA: SUNSHINE MILLIONS TURF
4 and up, California or Florida breds, 1 1/8 miles, turf
Post: E-4:55 p.m., C-3:55 p.m., M-2:55 p.m., P-1:55 p.m.; Arcadia, Ca., forecast: Partly cloudy, 56 degrees

PPHORSELAST 3 BEYERSODDS
1Skywalker Red95918220-1
2Running Free95939015-1
3Super Strut95659130-1
4A to the Z1111031004-1
5Icy Atlantic91859112-1
6Bob's Proud Moment769110030-1
7Union Place1021001026-1
8G P Fleet981051018-1
9Silver Tree102102993-1
10Cheiron93797730-1
11Continental Red92908610-1
12Star Over the Bay831051019-2
Also eligible:
13Sea Harbor91938330-1
14Stormy Roman101919415-1

Odds by Michael Hammersly

GULFSTREAM PARK: SUNSHINE MILLIONS CLASSIC
4 and up, California or Florida breds, 1 1/8 miles
Post: E-5:45 p.m., C-4:45 p.m., M-3:45 p.m., P-2:45 p.m.; Hallandale Beach, Fl., forecast: Chance of showers, 75 degrees

PPHORSELAST 3 BEYERSODDS
1Cozy Guy981031085-1
2Royal Place102628650-1
3Musique Toujours899410450-1
4Zakocity1011039520-1
5Second of June1001131114-1
6Classic Endeavor104104995-1
7Lava Man991071078-1
8Stockholder979511110-1
9El Don901008320-1
10Limehouse10075956-1
11Midas Eyes108981135-2
12Supah Blitz9210410520-1
Also eligible:
13Hear No Evil909510250-1
14Mister Fotis101997120-1

Odds by Art Gropper