01/11/2016 1:38PM

Sr. Quisqueyano set to defend Sunshine Millions Classic title

Barbara D. Livingston
Sr. Quisqueyano wins the 2015 Sunshine Millions Classic.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Up to eight starters, including defending champion Sr. Quisqueyano, appear likely for the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Classic, the main event on the six-stakes Sunshine Millions program here Saturday.

Sr. Quisqueyano is winless in five starts since upsetting last year’s Sunshine Millions Classic, which was open to horses bred in Florida, New York, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It will be restricted to Florida-breds this season. Sr. Quisqueyano has started twice since finishing sixth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park in May, checking home eighth in the Harlan’s Holiday here before showing improvement with a fifth-place finish under allowance conditions here Dec. 31.

“At least he showed some interest in running last time, which was something he did not do in the Harlan’s Holiday,” said trainer Peter Walder, who also will send out Runs With Bulls in the Sunshine Millions Classic. “And I think he’s ready for further improvement coming into the Classic off those two races, which he obviously needed off the layoff.”

Catholic Cowboy, third in the 2015 Classic, and Saraguaro, the winner of the Sunshine Millions Classic Preview in November at Gulfstream Park West, are among the other major contenders in a field that is also likely to include Abounding Legacy, Morgans Harbour, Roll on the Navajo, and Yourdreamsormine. Saraguaro looked sharp blowing out a half-mile for the Classic here Monday in 48.09 seconds over a track that still had some moisture in it following heavy rain Sunday.

Among the other prominent races on the Sunshine Millions card are the $200,000 Distaff and the $150,000 Sprint. The seven-furlong Distaff for fillies and mares figures to bring together the first four finishers from the Distaff Preview, Legal Laura, My Miss Venezuela, Flutterby, and Moment of Delight, along with the speedy Grade 3 winner Dogwood Trail and Grade 2-placed You Bought Her. The six-furlong Sprint for 4-year-olds and up will feature the red-hot X Y Jet going up against Wildcat Red, who returns to action for the first time since his fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Vosburgh on Sept. 26.

There will be 12 races on Saturday’s Sunshine Millions program, with first post at 12:05 p.m. Eastern. Post time for Friday’s and Sunday’s 11-race cards is 12:35 p.m.