30 January 2010

Our Groundhog Day: the Sunshine Millions

At the newly redesigned Superfecta site, our favorite archivist laments the lack of fanfare surrounding this year's running of the Sunshine Millions. Let me add my voice to hers in mourning the absence of mainstream coverage of what has traditionally been a rather fun break in the winter blues.

In the past, the King and I have reveled in the quirkiness of a racing program coordinated between two tracks on two different coasts. Our spirits always lifted as the NBC camera panned the warm and sunny track environs. We'd stop at the OTB to make a few wagers on the Florida & California breds, then camp out on the couch with froofy summer drinks to watch racing on the "big screen". Frankly, I thought it was racing's Groundhog Day, a good reason for a party to hurry winter on its way.

And perhaps the fact that the Sunshine Millions is no longer offered on broadcast networks, or even ESPN, is some sort of portent of things to come, but I can't be contemplating such serious stuff tonight. Instead, I've scoured the web for all things Sunshiney, because this Iowa winter has been brutal, brutal, brutal -- and I need to think about spring.

For those of you in the same mood, here are some links to the past performances for Saturday's stakes from Santa Anita and Gulfstream:

Sunshine Millions Sprint
Gulfstream - Race 8
Post time ~4:30 ET (3:30 Central, for those playing from Des Moines)

* Sunshine Millions Distaff
Gulfstream - Race 9
Post time 5:08 ET (4:08 Central)

* Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint
Santa Anita - Race 6
Post time 5:36 ET (4:36 Central)

* Sunshine Millions Turf
Gulfstream - Race 10
Post time 5:43 (4:43 Central)

* Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf
Santa Anita - Race 7
Post time 6:06 ET (5:06 Central)

Sunshine Millions Classic
Santa Anita - Race 8
Post time: 6:38 ET (5:38 CT)

Note: The Magna Pick 5 returns this weekend for $1 minimum, and 4 of the 5 races are Sunshine Millions races. The starting leg of the wager is the 9th at Laurel, followed by the starred races above. Past performances for all 5 races appear to be available from the Magna 5 site, which also provides instructions on how to place the bet: "Play the Magna 5 in person wherever you normally wager on the races. Ask the teller for the Pick Five at Laurel Park." They're plugging it as the $1 National Pick 5, and it seems to me that you gotta love how the Magna folks are bravely muddling through their own special winter.

Meanwhile, if you'd like some suggestions for selections, Superfecta also offers some analysis of the races, as do The Aspiring Horseplayer and Graded Stakes.

So yes, tomorrow, I will don longjohns and legwarmers, thick socks and warm woolen mittens, then scrape the remnants of ice and snow off the car to take a little trip to Altoona, IA. There, the King and I will spend a few hours in the drafty OTB section of Prairie Meadows, drinking cheap beer while we play the Groundhog Day game in which a win by California means that spring is on its way. Not as convenient or fun as days of yore, perhaps, but I learned during visits to Punxsutawney that even if it's six more weeks of winter, we've made it this far -- and that's certainly worth celebrating.


Teresa said...

Sunshine Millions occasioned my first winter trip to Aqueduct, about five years ago. Like you, I was charmed by the idea of betting warm weather races in my own freezing climate, and Sunshine Millions became a circled date on my racing calendar.

People really seem to like it--hard to believe that the industry doesn't do more to promote it. Then again...

Rising Rainbow said...

I'm with you. Spring needs to get here soon. This winter is killing me.

QQ said...

@Rising Rainbow - You said it, sister. This winter is rough. Great to hear from you again!

@Teresa - I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one. I've supported this with wagers as well as attention as long as I've been a race fan. Sadly couldn't play the Magna 5, snow at Laurel canceled the card, and with it, the wager.

Thanks for stopping by!