01/22/2003 12:00AM

For trainers, purses trump shipping concerns

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Not that they mind, considering the upside to what they might win, but trainers who have sent their horses from California to Florida for the Sunshine Millions concede they rather would have been doing the same thing at home.

"You have to ship all the way across the country, and you have to run over a new track," said Ian Jory, who on Saturday will saddle Continental Red as one of the major contenders in the Sunshine Millions featured event, the $1 million Classic. "But if you get a big piece of it, then obviously it's been worth the risk."

With 17 horses shipping in from California (and two more from New Orleans) for the four Gulfstream races in the inaugural Sunshine Millions, there has been some discussion here about whether Florida horses can rightly claim an inherent home field advantage. An identical issue faces the five Florida-based horses that will run in the four Sunshine Millions races at Santa Anita.

Jory, who long has been based in California but occasionally ships stakes-caliber horses around the country, said that home horses may have a slight edge over shippers, but quickly added that more important handicapping factors probably take precedence.

"If your horse likes the track, and he's good enough to win, then that probably means more than anything," Jory said. "I hear Gulfstream is a funny track for some horses, but Explicit really liked it," a reference to the multiple stakes-winning sprinter that Jory shipped around the country two years ago.

Continental Red, Jory said, "couldn't have been training any better" before he and the rest of the California contingent was flown from Santa Anita early Wednesday. "I could've stayed home and run for $500,000 [in the Turf] on a surface he's won over [the Santa Anita grass course]. So after you consider everything that's involved, I'd have to say I came here for the money."

Jory, who also has shipped Serene in Seattle to Gulfstream for the $350,000 Filly and Mare Turf, said the victory last month by Continental Red in the Great State Challenge Classic in Houston "was validated" when Pass Rush, the Great State runner-up, came back to win the Grade 2 San Fernando at Santa Anita in his next start.

"That really encourages me," Jory said.

Meanwhile, Craig Dollase, another California trainer with a horse in the Classic, agreed that Long Gone Con "will be fine" if he acclimates to the Gulfstream surface.

"If their track is anything like Hollywood's, then we should be all right," Dollase said. "Generally, horses tend to do well shipping from Hollywood, no matter where they go. I've never shipped my horse outside of California, but he's pretty well mannered, so that part of it shouldn't be a problem."

Tim Hills, a Gulfstream trainer who has one Millions starter here and one at Santa Anita, said there are obvious advantages to staying home, but they might be minor at best.

"I've got horses listed at 12-1 in both races," said Hills, who runs Wish It Were in the Filly-Mare Sprint here and Stormy Roman in the Turf. "If either one gets anything, I'm going to be pretty happy."

If any outside factor comes into play Saturday, it might be the weather. While the climate in both Florida and California has been temperate in recent days, a cold front has been forecast for the greater Miami area for Friday and Saturday, with a high temperature of only 59 for Friday and 65 for Saturday. The Los Angeles forecast for Saturday calls for a high of 76.

Malcolm Pierce, a Gulfstream-based trainer who will run Libretto in the Filly and Mare Turf here, said his mare favors warm weather. "That's funny, because I've got a Canadian horse who does better in hot weather," Pierce said. "And now it's supposed to be cold here this weekend."

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Not that they mind, considering the upside to what they might win, but trainers who have sent their horses from California to Florida for the Sunshine Millions concede they rather would have been doing the same thing at home.

"You have to ship all the way across the country, and you have to run over a new track," said Ian Jory, who on Saturday will saddle Continental Red as one of the major contenders in the Sunshine Millions featured event, the $1 million Classic. "But if you get a big piece of it, then obviously it's been worth the risk."

With 17 horses shipping in from California (and two more from New Orleans) for the four Gulfstream races in the inaugural Sunshine Millions, there has been some discussion here about whether Florida horses can rightly claim an inherent home field advantage. An identical issue faces the five Florida-based horses that will run in the four Sunshine Millions races at Santa Anita.

Jory, who long has been based in California but occasionally ships stakes-caliber horses around the country, said that home horses may have a slight edge over shippers, but quickly added that more important handicapping factors probably take precedence.

"If your horse likes the track, and he's good enough to win, then that probably means more than anything," Jory said. "I hear Gulfstream is a funny track for some horses, but Explicit really liked it," a reference to the multiple stakes-winning sprinter that Jory shipped around the country two years ago.

Continental Red, Jory said, "couldn't have been training any better" before he and the rest of the California contingent was flown from Santa Anita early Wednesday. "I could've stayed home and run for $500,000 [in the Turf] on a surface he's won over [the Santa Anita grass course]. So after you consider everything that's involved, I'd have to say I came here for the money."

Jory, who also has shipped Serene in Seattle to Gulfstream for the $350,000 Filly and Mare Turf, said the victory last month by Continental Red in the Great State Challenge Classic in Houston "was validated" when Pass Rush, the Great State runner-up, came back to win the Grade 2 San Fernando at Santa Anita in his next start.

"That really encourages me," Jory said.

Meanwhile, Craig Dollase, another California trainer with a horse in the Classic, agreed that Long Gone Con "will be fine" if he acclimates to the Gulfstream surface.

"If their track is anything like Hollywood's, then we should be all right," Dollase said. "Generally, horses tend to do well shipping from Hollywood, no matter where they go. I've never shipped my horse outside of California, but he's pretty well mannered, so that part of it shouldn't be a problem."

Tim Hills, a Gulfstream trainer who has one Millions starter here and one at Santa Anita, said there are obvious advantages to staying home, but they might be minor at best.

"I've got horses listed at 12-1 in both races," said Hills, who runs Wish It Were in the Filly-Mare Sprint here and Stormy Roman in the Turf. "If either one gets anything, I'm going to be pretty happy."

If any outside factor comes into play Saturday, it might be the weather. While the climate in both Florida and California has been temperate in recent days, a cold front has been forecast for the greater Miami area for Friday and Saturday, with a high temperature of only 59 for Friday and 65 for Saturday. The Los Angeles forecast for Saturday calls for a high of 76.

Malcolm Pierce, a Gulfstream-based trainer who will run Libretto in the Filly and Mare Turf here, said his mare favors warm weather. "That's funny, because I've got a Canadian horse who does better in hot weather," Pierce said. "And now it's supposed to be cold here this weekend."