01/29/2007 12:00AM

Sunshine Millions Turf preview


Race 5 - Santa Anita
1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
Sunshine Millions Turf
4-year-olds and upward (bred in Florida or California)
Purse $500,000.

LAVA MAN is obviously the horse to beat based on his stellar 2006 campaign. He won Grade 1 races on both dirt and turf, and it took Horse of the Year Invasor to stop his bid for an undefeated season in the Breeders' Cup Classic. He hasn't run since the BC, however, draws an outside post, and may get outsprinted to the front. It wouldn't be a surprise if he wins, but he won't offer any value. SUPER STRUT ran well to be third in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles last summer, and his most recent effort at Santa Anita looks like the perfect prep run. It was his first start off a short layoff, and he was stuck in the 3-4 path throughout. He stayed on nicely to the finish, and can show more in his second start back. There is a good deal of speed to setup his late kick, and the horse for course will offer a big price.
It could be argued that RAILROAD was only third best in the Grade 2 San Gabriel last time out as third-finisher Hendrix had a poor trip, but Railroad boasts improving Beyer Speed Figures, and may sit a great trip saving ground behind likely pacesetters WILD BUDDY, ICY ATLANTIC, and Lava Man. Railroad is a bit of a question mark at this distance, but shouldn't be ignored as a live longshot. RUNNING FREE hasn't won since the 2005 Del Mar meet, and has lacked a strong stretch punch in recent races. He did finish ahead of the top pick last time out.
SHERWOOD PARK and GO BETWEEN both go out for dangerous turf barns.

1. Super Strut
2. Lava Man
3. Railroad