Classic rematch among six races at Gulfstream


Frank Stronach and his Magna Entertainment, owners of Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, the Maryland Jockey Club, Portland Meadows and Santa Anita Park, never have been afraid to try new ideas.

Remember the ill-conceived Horse Wizard slot machines? Magna invested millions of dollars in development when any Las Vegas casino consultant could have advised it to save its money.

One of its better ideas has been the Sunshine Millions racing series that used to pit California-breds versus Florida-breds. On Saturday, the Sunshine Millions, solely for Florida-breds, will be run at Gulfstream Park.

It's a strong sequence of six stakes races with purses ranging from $150,000 to $400,000.

The $400,000 Classic is a rematch between Mucho Macho Man and Ron The Greek, who finished in that order last year. These foes last met in the Breeders' Cup Classic, where Mucho Macho Man ran a game second and Ron The Greek fourth.

Mucho Macho Man always will have a tactical edge on Ron The Greek because he has speed to lead or stay close. Ron The Greek has no early speed, placing him at the mercy of the early pace.

I thought for sure Gulfstream would offer a Sunshine Millions pick 6 bet. Which leads me to mention one of its best ideas that Magna just stopped on, the weekly Saturday Magna Pick 5.

The Magna Pick 5 bundled the races within one hour, allowing the horseplayer to see the results in rapid-fire sequence. I would suggest Magna revisit this, with a 50 cent minimum and takeout in the 12 to 14 percent range. Offer things the customers want, and they'll come back.

■ LAST-CHANCE QUALIFIER - The last chance to qualify for the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship will be Thursday at Treasure Island. The entry fee is $500. Only 30 percent of fees will be returned as prize money, but the key is the top five finishers will earn berths into the NHC, which begins Friday.

■ ECLIPSE AWARDS - For those not lucky enough to be at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, the Eclipse Awards will be televised live on HRTV from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Jeannine Edwards of ESPN will host.

■ 5,000-WIN CLUB - Two of the nation's best jockeys are on the verge of joining the 5,000-win club. Calvin Borel, who is sidelined with a broken wrist, is stuck at 4,999. Meanwhile, Ramon Dominguez was motoring along with 4,983 victories before Thursday racing at Aqueduct.

■ HOLLYWOOD PARK - Track president Jack Liebau announced at a Thursday California Horse Racing Board meeting that Hollywood Park would race a 2013 fall meet. This puts off for one more year a planned multibillion-dollar commercial development for the property in Inglewood, Calif.

Richard Eng's horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick.

 

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