01/15/2004 12:00AM

Peace Rules headliner among 130 pre-entries


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Peace Rules, Shake You Down, Man From Wicklow, and Midas Eyes were some of the prominent names among the 130 horses pre-entered for next Saturday's $3.6 million Sunshine Millions.

The Sunshine Millions, a series of eight races restricted to Florida- and California-breds, is run at Magna Entertainment Corp.'s two flagship tracks, Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita. Four of the races, including the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic, will be decided at Santa Anita, and the other four, topped by the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff and $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf, will be held at Gulfstream. Entries for all eight races will be drawn Monday at their respective tracks.

The majority of the eight races will be shown live during a two-hour broadcast on NBC beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern.

In addition to the Distaff and Turf, Gulfstream Park will host the $300,000 Sprint and the $250,000 Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. Joining the Classic at Santa Anita will be the $500,000 Filly and Mare Turf, the $300,000 Filly and Mare Sprint, and the $250,000 Dash for 3-year-olds.

"The pre-entries look quite good, and we are expecting full fields for nearly all the races," said Gulfstream Park racing secretary Dave Bailey, who compiled the list of pre-entries with his Santa Anita counterpart, Mike Hammerle. "The overall quality appears to be better than last year, especially in the Distaff, Sprint, and Turf. And getting Peace Rules for the Classic really tops off the program. I think horsemen on both coasts are getting used to the Sunshine Millions becoming a key part of the overall stakes program that Magna is putting together at both tracks."

Florida-breds dominated last winter's inaugural Sunshine Millions, winning seven of the eight races, and appear to hold the upper hand again this year.

Last year, the Florida-bred Peace Rules won the Grade 1 Blue Grass and Grade 1 Haskell handicaps and the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, and finished third in the Kentucky Derby. He tops the Florida contingent in the 1 1/8-mile Classic, which also includes Southern Image, winner of the Grade 1 Malibu; The Judge Sez Who, who finished fourth in last year's Classic; and Midas Eyes, who is also pre-entered for the Sprint and is expected to run in that race.

The California-bred Classic candidates are led by Grey Memo, Excessivepleasure, and Continental Red. Grey Memo and Continental Red finished third and eighth in the 2003 Classic at Gulfstream.

Grade 1 winner Man From Wicklow, who has not run since April, will launch his comeback in the 1 1/8-mile Turf. He is one of 22 Florida-breds pre-entered for the race. Others include Supah Blitz, Western Pride, Proud Man, Stormy Roman, and Miesque's Approval. Only five California-breds were made eligible for the Turf, including Continental Red.

Pre-entries for the Distaff were also dominated by Florida-breds, with only three of the 16 fillies and mares eligible for the race having been foaled in California. House Party, who finished second in last Sunday's six-furlong First Lady Handicap at Gulfstream, and Smok'n Frolic lead a strong contingent of Floridians, which also includes Redoubled Miss, Cellars Shiraz, and Ivanavinalot. The best of the California-breds is Royally Chosen.

The Sprint may prove the most competitive race of all and is also tipped in favor of Florida-breds. The starting lineup is likely to include three Florida-bred horses who competed in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint: Shake You Down, Midas Eyes, and Valid Video. Among the other potential starters are Tour of the Cat, King Robyn, and Pick'em. The best of the three California-breds nominated to the race is Green Team, who won the 2003 California Cup Sprint.

Valid Video outgamed Excessivepleasure to win last year's Sunshine Millions Dash.

The Filly and Mare Turf attracted 14 pre-entrants, seven from each state. Atlantic Ocean, who beat Ivanavinalot to win the 2003 Sunshine Oaks, and Lost Appeal are the only graded-stakes-placed members of Team Florida. Summer Wind Dancer is the only one of the seven California contenders to be graded stakes placed.

Madame Pietra, winner of the 2003 Sunshine Filly and Mare Sprint, is expected back to defend her title and is one of four Florida-breds among the 14 runners pre-entered for the six-furlong race. She was saddled to victory last year by Howie Zucker, but is now trained by Bobby Frankel.

Bear Fan, who is stabled at Palm Meadows with trainer Wesley Ward, may be the best of the 10 California-breds in the Filly and Mare Sprint.

The Oaks and the Dash, the only races that did not oversubscribe, each had 11 horses pre-entered. The Oaks and the Dash may also afford Team California its best opportunities to win races on the Sunshine Millions card.

Silent Sighs will likely be favored over fellow California-bred Yearly Report to win the Oaks. To win the Dash, Don'tsellmeshort and California Cup Juvenile winner He's the Rage may have to beat Florida-bred Ice Wynnd Fire, a recent Frankel acquisition.