The Sunshine Millions, a creation of Frank Stronach's Magna Entertainment, 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. This is the 8th Sunshine Millions, with two major changes made: the two races restricted to 3-year-olds, the Oaks and the Dash, were eliminated, and the purses of the remaining races were cut.
A field of 9 older horses contested the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic over 1 1/8 miles over the synthetic main track at Santa Anita. The Usual Q.T. was sent off as the 11-10 favorite off a 6 race winning streak including the Sir Beaufort last out, but switching from turf to synthetic. In to challenge him included 5-1 second choice Bold Chieftain, third in three straight races including the Hollywood Derby and the San Gabriel Handicap, and 6-1 third choice Wicked Style, fifth in the River City at Churchill in November.
13-1 Enriched went to the front to set the early pace of 23.31, 46.77, and 1:10.91 with The Usual Q.T. stalking him in second just to his outside the whole way. Entering the stretch, the pace duel took its toll as both pacesetters dropped from contention. Bold Chieftain, who was 6th early, came through traffic late to gain the lead at the 1/16 pole, then was all out to hold off late-running 7-1 Palladio late to get the win by a neck in 1:48.33. It was a length back to 50-1 longest shot Unusual Smoke third, while favorite The Usual Q.T. finished last beaten 5 lengths.
Winning trainer William Morey Jr. said, "These are the kinds of things that leave you breathless and make the game so much fun, and we're supposed to have fun out here. There's a little bit of money in it, too. We were really gearing for this one. This is the one we were after. We stayed here. We didn't go back up Highway Five (to his Bay Area headquarters). We camped out here at Santa Anita. He was really going to have to jump up with a monster today to continue thinking of going on (racing), and he came through, so I guess he wants to keep going. He's got the ball."
Jockey Russell Baze added, "This ranks right up there with any race I've ever won, anywhere. We were in some pretty tight straights there turning for home. I didn't know if I was going to get through or not, but a hole presented itself coming to the 3/16 and we got through, but then I had to check up and we clipped heels. Even though we got through I had (Unusual Smoke) laying on me and it's hard for a horse to move when he's got horses laying on him like that, but he did it."