The Sunshine Millions, a creation of Frank Stronach's Magna Entertainment and celebrating its 9th renewal in 2011, is a series of six races restricted to horses bred in California and Florida, with three races each contested at Magna's premier winter tracks, Santa Anita and Gulfstream. Despite being restricted, these races draw large competitive fields with some very good horses each year. The weather cooperated at both tracks, with fans and participants enjoying sunny skies and dry racing surfaces in both Arcadia and Hallandale.
The richest race of the afternoon is the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic for older horses going 1 1/8 miles on the main track at Gulfstream Park. First Dude was sent off as the 9-10 favorite despite only having 1 lifetime win. In to challenge him included 7-2 Birdrun and 7-1 Duke of Mischief. 27-1 Tackleberry went to the lead early under jockey Javier Santiago and he set early fractions of 24.41, 48.78, and 1:12.13 over the fast track while being stalked by Duke of Mischief the whole way. Into the stretch, Duke of Mischief put in a challenge but Tackleberry turned him away, drawing off late to win by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:48.52. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to 57-1 Dream Maestro third, while favorite First Dude finished fourth.
Winning trainer Luis Olivares said, "This is the biggest purse I've won. I won a $400,000 (Florida) Stallion Stakes and a Grade 1 in California years ago with Powder Break. He loves to run and wants the lead. Last time he stumbled and broke bad at the start and didn't get to run his race. He's a fighter. He looks like he's dead at the top of the stretch and he fights back." Jockey Javier Santiago added, "The trainer told me to go to the lead no matter what. He said this horse does his best when he's on the lead. I was a little surprised there wasn't more pressure on me, but I guess the other riders saw my horse as a longshot and left us alone. In the stretch, I was asking him and asking him – I wasn't looking back at anybody else."
The $300,000 Sunshine Millions Turf featured a field of 8 older horses going 1 1/8 miles on the turf at Santa Anita. Jeranimo was sent off as the 7-5 favorite over 2-1 The Usual Q.T. and 3-1 Caracortado. As expected, 11-1 Presious Passion was hustled away early and set an uncontested pace of 23.59, 47.02, and 1:10.81 over the firm course, while as many as 5 lengths in front of 57-1 longest shot No Inflation second. Entering the stretch, the pacesetters tired, as The Usual Q.T., who stalked them in third, gained a short lead through 1 mile in 1:34.91. Caracortado, 6th early, closed on the outside, duelled briefly with The Usual Q.T. through the final furlong, and pulled away late to win by 1/2 a length in 1:46.75. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to 13-1 Soul Candy third.
Winning jockey Joe Talamo said, "He's a freak on turf and has such a tremendous turn of foot. I really appreciate the opportunity. Mike (Machowsky, trainer and co-owner) has done such a good job with him. He's been working with him on the turf and I have been working him every time. He just explodes that last 1/8. I think in one of his workouts he came home in ten-and-four, and I didn't even ask him the last eighth. He's a tremendous horse." Machowsky added that Caracortado would go next in either the Kilroe Mile or Santa Anita Handicap.