The horse to watch in the 2017 Sunshine Millions Classic remains Awesome Slew, a slow burning four-year-old colt who had been flirting with the winner’s circle through the fall of last year. The Edward Plesa Jr. trainee finished 3rd at the Harlan’s Holiday to cap his 2016 campaign, but also proved worth at the thrilling Pennsylvania Derby where he finished 5th after winning the Smarty Jones (G3) in early September.
There was some thought of running the up-and-coming colt on the Pegasus World Cup undercard out of Gulfstream, but Plesa ultimately decided that the 2017 Sunshine Millions Classic was a better fit. “I think it’s a good spot for him, because it is restricted to Florida-breds,” Plesa said. “Live Oak does breed horses that are Florida-breds and it’s an opportunity for us to run in a race that certainly isn’t going to be anywhere near a Pegasus-type race.”
Running from the outside post should give Awesome Slew an advantage against a decently competitive field, but it’s his experience that makes him the horse to back overall. There’s a lot of filler in this race. Piloting will attempt to get his first win for Mark Casse in his 27th attempt. Tiger of Wales will be making his stakes debut despite being a five-year-old.
“He’s just stepping up to the plate,” Plesa continued about the expected 2017 Sunshine Millions Classic favorite. “He’s been compromised by odd things that happen to horses—sickness being his main thing—and we were trying to play catch-up all last year. We finally caught up in the Smarty Jones and then I ran him back a little quicker than he probably would have liked in the Pennsylvania Derby. He’s been training great and he’s doing great. I think he’ll hit his full stride this year.”
Awesome Slew comes from a strong lineage so he could certainly be a surprise as a four-year-old. The journey to prove his overall worth to Plesa and horse players around the country begins this weekend.
2017 Sunshine Millions Classic – Saturday, January 21st at Gulfstream (8:35pm EST)
1 1/8th Miles — 4+ Year Olds — $200,000
|1||Tiger of Wales (FL)||Tyler Gaffalione||119||Michael J. Maker||–|
|2||Nauset Beach (FL)||Paco Lopez||117||Teresa M. Pompay||–|
|3||Hy Riverside (FL)||Jose L. Ortiz||119||Antonio Sano||–|
|4||We’re All Set (FL)||Luis Saez||117||Fernando Abreu||–|
|5||Joshua’s Comprise (FL)||Martin Ramos Ramirez||117||Barry R. Rose||–|
|6||Piloting (FL)||Luca Panici||117||Mark E. Casse||–|
|7||Uncle Vinny (FL)||John R. Velazquez||117||Todd A. Pletcher||–|
|8||Awesome Slew (FL)||Javier Castellano||123||Edward Plesa, Jr.||–|