12/28/2004 12:00AM

Sunshine Millions next on agenda

Benoit & Associates
Alphabet Kisses (center), winner of Monday's Grade 1 La Brea, may start next in the Sunshine Millions Distaff.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The first two days of the Santa Anita meeting on Sunday and Monday might have been a preview of a few of the Sunshine Millions races for California-breds and Florida-breds at Santa Anita on Jan. 29.

From She's a Jewel, the winner of the first race of the meeting on Sunday, to Alphabet Kisses, the winner of the Grade 1 late Monday afternoon, the thought of a start in the Sunshine Millions was on the minds of many participants - and even some that stayed in the barn.

The victory by Alphabet Kisses will give the California-bred team further depth in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita. She joins a list of candidates that includes Dream of Summer, House of Fortune, and Yearly Report.

Yearly Report was scratched from the La Brea Stakes after apparently knocking herself in the ankle while training over the weekend, trainer Bob Baffert said.

Alphabet Kisses ran the race of her career in the seven-furlong La Brea. She led early, trailed Elusive Diva by a head on the final turn and rallied in early stretch to win by a length.

"I would think the Sunshine Millions is a possibility," trainer Marty Jones said. "She can get the distance, but we'll see how she comes out of the race. She's kind of a light filly so hopefully she'll bounce out of the race okay."

Owned by John Harris, the chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, Alphabet Kisses has won 5 of 10 starts and $326,910.

Because participation in the Sunshine Millions is based on the state of a horse's breeding and not location of its ownership or where the horse is trained, there are many Florida-breds based in California that will participate in the Sunshine Millions.

She's a Jewel, a Florida-bred, and Memorette, the winner of Monday's fillies division of the California Breeders' Champion Stakes, are likely to meet in the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks over six furlongs.

She's a Jewel was third in the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park in November. On Sunday, she won an allowance race by 1 1/2 lengths after stalking the pace for the first six furlongs.

Owned by Mercedes Stable and trained by Vladimir Cerin, She's a Jewel was purchased for $190,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sale of 2-year-olds in-training sale in April. She has made all five of her starts in Southern California, which will give her something of a home-track advantage for the Sunshine Millions Oaks.

"It's a good program for California-breds and Florida-breds," Cerin said of the Sunshine Millions. "When you have a good one, you should support it."

Spanish Chestnut taking Derby prep route

Spanish Chestnut is a Florida-bred unlikely to start in the Sunshine Millions Dash for 3-year-olds.

Instead, trainer Patrick Biancone and owners Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith have loftier goals in some of the Triple Crown trials.

After Spanish Chestnut won an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles in Monday's third race, Biancone said the colt will be pointed for the $150,000 San Rafael Stakes at a mile on Jan. 15.

The allowance race score was Spanish Chestnut's second win in four starts. In his lone stakes appearance, he was second in the Lone Star Park Juvenile on the Breeders' Cup Day undercard on Oct. 30.

Sent off at 1-2 on Monday, Spanish Chestnut led throughout under Gary Stevens, holding an advantage of 1 1/2 lengths on the backstretch and winning by three lengths over Salty Humor. Spanish Chestnut was timed in 1:42.89.

"He's a horse with a lot of talent," Biancone said. "He wants to do too much too quick. Gary did well to control his speed. I don't know if he will be, but he could be a Derby horse."

Spanish Chestnut stands 16 hands and catches the eye with his muscular appearance. "He's so well muscled, he looks small," Biancone said.

Biancone said he made the decision to run on Monday as opposed to giving Spanish Chestnut a lengthy workout.

"I said I was going to work him a mile, but when this race came up, we decided to go," Biancone said. "He got the experience."

Belleski top threat in Monrovia

There are three graded stakes at Santa Anita from Friday through Sunday.

Friday's $100,000 Monrovia Handicap for fillies and mares on the hillside turf course will have a large field if weather permits the race to stay on turf. Belleski, unbeaten in five turf starts at Santa Anita, is a top contender.

Saturday's top race is the $150,000 San Gabriel Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf. If it stays on turf, trainer Bobby Frankel said Epicentre, the winner of the Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland last April, might start. If the race is moved to dirt, Lundy's Liability, the winner of the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap in October, is a possibility.

Frankel said that Cajun Beat, the winner of the 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint, will not start in Sunday's $100,000 El Conejo Handicap over 5 1/2 furlongs. That race marks the comeback of McCann's Mojave, who has not started since finishing second to Speightstown in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap last May. McCann's Mojave won the Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap here last March.