- A solid return for Lava Man, and it seems that the Sunshine Millions races make him relax; like he did in winning last year's Sunshine Classic, the six-year old gelding was able to sit off the pace. He didn't have the best of trips, getting caught three wide on both turns, but handled the outclassed field with relative ease, coming home in 12.21 seconds for his 8th win in a row in California. The last time Lava Man lost in California was when he finished third, beaten less than a length, in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 21, 2005, at Del Mar. [LA Times]
Given that success, you'd think he'd stick around, but Doug O'Neill indicated that Dubai remains a possibility.
He said two grass races during the World Cup in Dubai on March 31 -- the $5 million Duty Free or the $5 million Sheema Classic – could be next for Lava Man. Asked if the Santa Anita Handicap on March 3 is a consideration, he answered, “Oh, for sure.” [Bloodhorse.com]O'Neill had an excellent day, as his Mistical Plan won the Oaks in the most exciting finish on the Millions program. She was eighth, buried inside on the turn. But shortly after Trevor Denman noted that she was "crying for racing room," she got it, neatly skimming the rail turning for home, and swinging out for the winning rally. This filly, by the California-based sire Game Plan, an unraced son of Danzig, burned money as the favorite in her last two tries, both around two turns in graded stakes company. Here, she took advantage of the softer company, a blistering early pace, and the short route home to get the nod at 2-1. Or, she just might have appreciated the turnback in distance. I think it may be worth keeping an eye on her to see if she's overbet upon returning to open company.
Filly and Mare Sprint winner Shaggy Mane (Bertrando) was a $12,500 claim who has since won three of four, with the only loss coming at a 7 1/2 furlong distance that's a furlong and a half too long. She was 20-1 in the morning line, and went off at 6-1, but this was a case, I think, of a bad morning line rather than a hot horse (or a case of bettors following Mike Bettaglia, who tabbed this one correctly for NBC).