The $1.3 million Sunshine Millions at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 18 received 145 nominations, including Mucho Macho Man, who captured the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita in November.
Mucho Macho Man has been training sharply at Gulfstream for a possible start in the $400,000 Classic, which will anchor the six-race event for Florida-bred horses that will also include the $300,000 Distaff, the $150,000 Turf, the $150,000 Filly & Mare Turf, the $150,000 Sprint and the $150,000 Filly & Mare Sprint.
The Sunshine Millions will be followed that evening by the 43rd Annual Eclipse Awards Ceremony in the Sport of Kings. Thoroughbred racing's version of the Academy Awards was held at a racetrack for the first time last year at Gulfstream Park.
Mucho Macho Man, who will be honored with the Secretariat Vox Populi Award in ceremonies at Santa Anita and Gulfstream on Saturday, is expected to be a finalist for the Eclipse Award for older horses and is on the short list of possible Horse of the Year finalists.
The Kathy Ritvo-trained 6-year-old captured the 2012 Sunshine Millions Classic. Last year, the son of Macho Uno was the odds-on favorite to defend his title, only to be pulled up by jockey Mike Smith before the finish after having much difficulty handling a sloppy track. Soon after, Mucho Macho Man was inflicted with bacterial and viral infections that compromised the first half of his 2014 campaign.
Todd Pletcher, defending 10-time training champion at Gulfstream, nominated five horses for the Sunshine Millions, including Mordi's Miracle, who captured the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Classic Preview at Gulfstream by three lengths on Nov. 9. Pletcher nominated Mordi's Miracle for the Classic, along with graded stakes-placed Battier and lightly raced Tiz Chris.
Pletcher also nominated Silsita (Distaff and F&M Turf), runner-up to Parranda in the $125,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Preview on Nov. 9, and Sweet N Discreet (Distaff and F&M Sprint), who won back-to-back allowance races at Gulfstream before finishing second behind Devil's Cave in the $100,000 Ocala Stakes. Both Parranda (F&M Turf) and Devil's Cave (Distaff and F&M Sprint) were nominated to the Sunshine Millions.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert nominated four horses for the Sunshine Millions, including Den's Legacy (Classic and Turf), Rolling Fog (Sprint), Ondine (Distaff, F&M Turf and F&M Sprint) and Secretsatmidnight (Turf).
California-based Tom Proctor, who trains a division at Gulfstream) nominated three West Coast performers, including Procurement (F&M Turf), Wishing Gate (F&M Turf) and Old Time Hockey (Turf). California-based John Sadler nominated Spring Up (Turf)
Trainer Ron Moquett nominated Gentlemen's Bet, who finished third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita last time out, for the Sprint, which also attracted Jason Servis-trained Ribo Robo, winner of 10 of his last 11 starts, was nominated to the Sprint.
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