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Sun Million Classic: Shaping up to a ‘home exacta’
by Geir Stabell ( / Globeform (
Last update: 2007-01-27 17:58:26 (First published: 2007-01-26 11:56:50 )

Gulfstream Park 27 Jan: It has drawn a full field, of course, but the 9-furlong Sunshine Millions Classic does have two clear favorites; the 4-year-old Sweetnorthernsaint and the 6-year-old Silver Wagon.

They are both bred in Florida, so this looks like a home win, probably a Florida Exacta.

Which one to choose though, the younger horse, who prepped in an ‘okay’ manner here three weeks ago and is proven over the distance, or the older horse, who produced his best ever last time out, but is coming off a break and trying this distance for the first time?

Five contenders are rated close enough to take advantage if they both fail to run to form, and the most interesting in this quintet is the lightly raced Armenian Summer.


Gulfstream Park 27 January 2007 - 9 furlongs dirt

Horses listed with best Globeform, sire, rider

116 – SWEETNORTHERNSAINT (Sweetsouthernsaint) R Dominguez
115 – SILVER WAGON (Wagon Limit) E Prado
112 – McCANN’S MOJAVE (Memo) F Alvarado
110 – ARMENIAN SUMMER (Siberian Summer) J Velazquez Jr
110 – TEXCESS (In Excess) G Gomez
110 – GET FUNKY (Straight Man) J Valdivia Jr
110 – BOB’S PROUD MOMENT (Proud and True) R Bejarano
107 – PAPI CHULLO (Comeonmom) M Smith
105 – REHOBOTH (Wagon Limit) M Cruz
102 – DRY MARTINI (Slew Gin Fizz) C Velasquez
100 – SUMMER BOOK (Notebook) M Guidry
..99 – BLAZING RATE (Exchange Rate) J Velez Jr

Sweetnorthernsaint produced his career best when he blew the opposition away in the Illinois Derby (G2) last spring – winning by 9 ¼ lengths from Mister Triester. That horse had previously finished just over eight lengths behind (a not fully tuned up) Brother Derek, and came back to run a dull third in the Derby Trial.

His second to Bernardini in the Preakness Stakes (G1) – after a flop in th Kentucky Derby (G1) – was also solid form. However, Sweetnorthernsaint’s win in the Illinois Derby was slightly better form. Will it ever be repeated? Or, improved upon?

We still respect Michael Trombetta’s gelding’s performance at Hawthorne, where he was second early and proved much the best at the business end. Three sixteenths from the wire he was only about two lengths in front of Mister Triester, but quickened away and added another seven before the race was over. You can argue that he did not beat much, but he sure looked strong at the end of the contest. Over a speed favoring track, he may just run a similar race again at four.

A rest followed after the Preakness, and Sweetnorthernsaint came back with facile wins in soft races in October / November, over 7 furlongs at Laurel and over 8.5 furlongs in the Odessa at Delaware Park. He stepped back up in class in the Hal’s Hope (G3) over a mile at Gulfstream Park in January, and ran below his best to finish third behind Chatain and Sir Greeley. Sweetnorternsaint probably needs to return to 9 furlongs to make an impact this year. He does not need to dominate to produce his best, but he does not need to chase a pace that is a step too quick either. That seemed to be the case last time out.

Silver Wagon makes more appeal, even over this distance – which he has never tried before. He has been among the best sprint-milers over the past two seasons, but it is still a bit puzzling that he has yet to attempt 9 furlongs. The way he finishes his races, nearly always with a powerful surge from off the pace, suggests that he will love it. Well, better late than never, as his connections finally give it a go. What better, than doing so coming off a lifetime best performance, and doing so in a valuable race? Silver Wagon is the one for us here. He has never been better than when beating Sir Greeley by 5 ½ lengths in the 7-furlong Sports Page Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct in November. Afrashad was third and three weeks later he won the Fall Highweight Handicap, with Sir Greeley in second. After that, Sir Greeley ran a solid second to Chatain, with Sweetnorthernsaint back in third.

This all points to the gray Richard Dutrow trainee, not least since there is plenty of speed in the field – something that will make it tough for Sweetnorthernsaint and set it up for a deep closer. Silver Wagon must stay the distance of course, and we have no guarantees on that score. His pedigree says there is a good chance, his running style says there is an excellent chance. He is coming off a layoff, but has done well after breaks in the past and that factor it not a concern. He has done well in Grade One company, this is a drop in class, he likes Gulfstream Park, and he must have a great chance.

Armenian Summer is another strong closer, and he is improving now, having taken a good step up on the ratings ladder with his second to Dixie Meister in the San Pasqual Handicap (G2) at Santa Anita last time out. He was beaten just a nose, after coming with a seriously good run from the back in a strongly run race (running much like the winner did). He is on the upgrade, having run a nice second to the classy Awesome Gem over a mile at Santa Anita in October. If Armenian Summer can take his California form to Gulfstream, he can hit the board in this ‘Million’.

McCann’s Mojave (who is back in form), Texcess (the Cal Cup Classic winner) and Get Funky are others worth a place on the trifecta plan . The last named is coming out of the Sir Beaufort, which is beginning to look like some ‘key race’ - but we have question marks regarding the distance and the surface regarding this 4-year-old. As the Globeform Ratings show, quite a few have a chance of finishing in the top four in this race.



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