01/14/2009 1:00AM

Sunshine Classic still coming up strong


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic lost some of its luster with the death earlier this week of Go Between and the recent retirements of Gottcha Gold and Acai. But the main event on the eight-race Sunshine Millions program, to be run a week from Saturday, still figures to have plenty of firepower in the lineup, especially on the Florida-bred side of the ledger, with Delightful Kiss, Macho Again, Hey Byrn, Atoned, Dry Martini and Palladio all listed as potential starters for the 1 1/8-mile race.

The Sunshine Millions Classic will anchor the Gulfstream Park portion of the program, which also includes the $500,000 Filly and Mare Turf, $300,000 Filly and Mare Sprint, and the $250,000 Dash. Santa Anita's card will feature the $500,000 Distaff, $500,000 Turf, $300,000 Sprint, and $250,000 Oaks.

Pre-entries for all eight Sunshine Million races closed Wednesday and were to be announced Thursday. The Florida Sports Network will show three of the eight races live from 5-6 p.m., while HRTV will broadcast all eight events.

Delightful Kiss, who exploded from dead last to win Gulfstream's Grade 3 Hal's Hope by three lengths on opening day, and Macho Again, winner of the Grade 2 Jim Dandy last summer at Saratoga, may vie for favoritism in the Classic.

"The main concern is whether Macho Again will clear quarantine in time to get here," said Gulfstream Park racing secretary Doug Bredar.

Macho Again is trained by Dallas Stewart, whose barn at the Fair Grounds has been quarantined since late December due to a reported case of the equine herpesvirus. Tests are being conducted on the horses in that barn, and if they come back negative, Macho Again is expected to be able to make the race.

Topping the list of likely contenders for the Filly and Mare Turf are the Barry Abrams-trained pair of Bel Air Sizzle and Lethal Heat, along with Wild Promises, who is trained by Greg Gilchrist. All three horses are based on the West Coast, although Wild Promises is a Florida-bred.

Dearest Trickski and the Gilchrist-trained High Resolve could be the ones to beat in the Filly and Mare Sprint, while Backbackbackgone and You Luckie Mann loom key contenders in the Dash.

Notable runners expected for the Santa Anita races are Soldier's Dancer, Lucky J.H., Mr. Chairman, Icy Atlantic, Unusual Suspect, and Victory Pete in the Turf; Romance Is Diane, Bai and Bai, and Spenditallbaby in the Distaff; In Summation, Yesbyjimminy, Georgie Boy, and Johnny Eves in the Sprint; and Ten Churros and Emmy Darling in the Oaks.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen