Updated on 09/17/2011 6:02PM

Two good Gill claims target Millions


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - When Michael Gill, the nation's top owner by wins, moved his California stable to the East Coast last spring, it marked the end of a largely unsuccessful six-month involvement in California racing.

Gill claimed more than 100 horses from October 2003 until May of this year, but had little to show for it. While racing in California, Gill had 18 winners from 153 starters, a 12 percent success rate. When his stable left, Gill admitted that in hindsight he made a lot of bad claims.

It turns out two of those claims have turned out to be bargains - the California-breds Lusty Latin and Thermal Ablasion, both of whom have won stakes on the mid-Atlantic circuit in recent months.

The success has caused Gill to consider the pair for the Sunshine Millions program for California-breds and Florida-breds on Jan. 29. Lusty Latin is a candidate for the $1 million Classic over 1 1/8 miles, while Thermal Ablasion may start in the $300,000 Filly and Mare Sprint over six furlongs. Both races will be run at Gulfstream Park.

Lusty Latin has had a roller-coaster career. Bred by Applebite Farm, he began his career in maiden claiming races before being claimed by Joey and Wendy Platts and trainer Jeff Mullins for $62,500 in November 2001.

In 2002, Lusty Latin was a minor stakes winner at Turf Paradise, finished third in the 2002 Santa Anita Derby, and was 15th in the Kentucky Derby.

He never regained that form for Mullins before Gill claimed him for $80,000 last December.

For Gill, Lusty Latin has won $182,040.

This year, Lusty Latin won two allowance races at Saratoga and the $148,500 John Schapiro Memorial Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on dirt at Pimlico in September.

Since then, his form has tailed off. He was fifth in the Grade 2 Meadowlands Cup and 10th in the John Henry Stakes

After Lusty Latin finished eighth in the Charles Hadry Stakes at Pimlico last weekend, gill said, "He didn't fire. He came back and was full of mucus. We'll get him back again. We probably went to the well too many times."

Gill said that Lusty Latin was gelded last spring. With a break, he expects Lusty Latin to return to top form in 2005.

"He's gotten real good on us," he said. "If we don't screw this up, we think he's a nice horse."

Thermal Ablasion was claimed for $50,000 by Gill last February when she won a sprint at Santa Anita. It marked the fifth time that the 5-year-old mare by Unusual Heat has been claimed in her 36-race career, which includes 10 wins.

For Gill, Thermal Ablasion has won 3 of 8 starts, including the Cordially Stakes over a mile at Delaware Park in late September. She has placed in three other stakes, including the Stefanita Stakes over six furlongs at Pimlico Nov. 20.

"She was kind of a steal," Gill said.

Western Hemisphere gets vacation

Western Hemisphere, one of the top 3-year-old California-bred fillies this year, has been turned out, trainer Bob Baffert said.

Baffert said Western Hemisphere will return to his stable next summer.

"She was really light," Baffert said. "Mentally, I think it will help her."

Owned by the Mabee family's Golden Eagle Farm, Western Hemisphere was scratched from the Cat's Cradle Handicap on Nov. 14.

She has won 3 of 9 starts and $274,465. Her only stakes win came in the Fleet Treat Stakes at Del Mar, but she was second in the Melair and Grade 2 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park last spring and the California Cup Distaff at Santa Anita in October.