ARCADIA, Calif. -- The list of the pre-entries for the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Santa Anita on Jan. 26 is too crowded for Sweetnorthernsaint, the runner-up in the 2006 Preakness Stakes.
When pre-entries for the eight Sunshine Millions races for California-breds and Florida-breds at Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park were announced on Thursday, Sweetnorthernsaint ranked ninth among the Florida-bred hopefuls for the 1 1/18-mile Classic. The race is limited to 12 starters, six California-breds and six Florida-breds. There were 26 horses pre-entered for the Classic, 14 Cal-breds and 12 Florida-breds.
Winners of graded stakes in 2007-08 are preferred over horses that placed in graded stakes or won or placed in ungraded stakes.
Sweetnorthernsaint finished second in the Grade 3 Lone Star Park and Grade 3 National Jockey Club handicaps last year and earned $229,375. There are six Florida-bred graded stakes winners in 2007 ranked ahead of him - Going Ballistic, Diamond Stripes, Gottcha Gold, Go Between, Electrify, and Buzzards Bay. In addition, Iamawildandcrazyguy ($392,100) and Summer Book ($251,270), who placed in graded stakes last year, are ranked higher than Sweetnorthernsaint.
"We didn't anticipate this," said Michael Trombetta, who trains Sweetnorthernsaint.
Post positions will be drawn for the races on Sunday.
The California-breds expected to start in the Classic are the 2007 graded stakes winners Bilo, Now Victory, Celtic Dreamin, and McCann's Mojave; the graded-stakes-placed Freesgood; and the stakes winner Bold Chieftain. Freesgood may pass the race, which would leave a place for Rush With Thunder.
Nashoba's Key, the top California-bred female of 2007, was pre-entered for the Classic and the $500,000 Filly and Mare Turf at 1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita. Trainer Carla Gaines said Thursday she was leaning toward the Filly and Mare Turf, where Nashoba's Key would be heavily favored.
In the other Santa Anita races, the California-bred Shaggy Mane is the defending champion in the $300,000 Filly and Mare Sprint at six furlongs, which has also attracted the Florida-bred Dearest Trickski, the winner of the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes last month.
Georgie Boy, the California-bred winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity in September, is expected to make his 2008 debut in the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash for 3-year-olds at six furlongs.
The richest races at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26 will be the $500,000 Turf at 1 1/8 miles and the $500,000 Distaff on dirt. The Florida-bred Icy Atlantic, third in the 2006 Turf and second in it last year, will make his first start since finishing ninth in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Monmouth Park in October.
The Florida-bred Ginger Punch, the winner of the BC Distaff in October, will be a heavy favorite in the Distaff.
Benny the Bull, the Florida-bred winner of the Grade 1 Frank DeFrancis Memorial Dash at Laurel in November, will be a standout in the $300,000 Sprint at six furlongs.
The Florida-bred Tasha's Miracle returns to sprinting in the $250,000 Oaks at six furlongs, her first start since a fourth in the BC Juvenile Fillies.