01/15/2015 12:03PM

Transparent drops down for shot at Sunshine Millions Classic

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
An optional claiming race win was Transparent's only victory in 2014.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Transparent has started 14 times, but he’s never been given the opportunity to run against restricted statebred company. He will do that Saturday, when he'll be among the favorites to capture the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park.

The 1 1/8-mile Classic is the last and richest of the five Sunshine Millions stakes to be decided on Saturday’s 11-race program. For the first time, the Sunshine Millions will be open not only to Florida-breds but to horses foaled in New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland as well.

Transparent will take a decided drop in class in the Classic after closing out his 4-year-old campaign with an eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile. Transparent captured his only other U.S. start in 2014 late last summer when edging clear to a 1 1/4-length triumph over Cease in a mid-level optional-claiming race at Belmont Park.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 4 Transparent. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is 19-8-1-2 with a $2.93 ROI over the past five years in dirt route non-graded stakes following a layoff of 45 days or more. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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“He’s been training very well, and we’ve been pointing for this race since the Cigar,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “Although he’s a Florida-bred, this is the first time we’ve gotten to run him in the Sunshine Millions. He was in Dubai last winter.”

McLaughlin gave two excuses for Transparent’s somewhat disappointing performance in the Cigar Mile.

“Speed was a necessity that day, and we were way out the back early,” McLaughlin said. “You just couldn’t make up any ground over that track. And he was a little overmatched, too. But we feel he has a great chance on Saturday, being older and finally running against Florida-breds.”

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McLaughlin admitted the Classic will be no easy spot with local handicap stars such as Wildcat Red and East Hall in the lineup.

Wildcat Red has won 5 of 8 starts and never has finished worse than second over his home course. The hard-knocking son of D’wildcat was one of the stars of the 2014 meeting, winning both the Grade 3 Hutcheson and the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth before finishing second, beaten a neck by Constitution, in the Florida Derby.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 5 Wildcat Red. Trainer Jose Garoffalo is 13-3-0-0 with a $2.46 ROI over the past four years in dirt routes following a layoff of between 61 and 180 days. Click for more details. Dan Illman

East Hall defeated Wildcat Red in the Sunshine Millions Classic Preview, coming from the rear of the pack to register a two-length victory in November at Gulfstream Park West. The win was the third of the season for East Hall, whose most important victory came five weeks earlier in the Grade 2 Indiana Derby.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 2 East Hall. Trainer Bill Kaplan is 25-1-5-3 with a $0.50 ROI over the past five years in dirt routes following a layoff of 45 days or more. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

Catholic Cowboy, the upset winner of the Claiming Crown Jewel, Sr. Quisqueyano, and I’m Steppin’ It Up complete the field.

Key contenders

Transparent (Last 3 Beyers: 85-103-98)

* He was disqualified from what would have been the most important win of his career when placed fifth after posting an apparent two-length victory in the 2013 Curlin at Saratoga, which was decided at 1 1/8 miles, the distance of the Classic.

The 103 Beyer Speed Figure he received for his victory Sept. 18 was the highest registered by any member of the Classic field last season.

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Wildcat Red (Last 3 Beyers: 92-86-89)

He lost his last four starts as a 3-year-old, with each of those races being away from Gulfstream at four different venues.

He has yet to win at 1 1/8 miles, although he ran perhaps the best race of his career when narrowly defeated going nine furlongs in the 2014 Florida Derby.

East Hall (Last 3 Beyers: 95-96-84)

He is winless at 1 1/8 miles, finishing well back in both the Louisiana Derby and the Florida Derby at 3.

He must carry the high weight of 123 pounds under the allowance conditions of the Classic, conceding weight to the entire field, including six pounds to both Transparent and Wildcat Red.