Almost on cue, Sunshine Beach comes barreling south of the border as the 5-2 morning line choice in Saturday’s $50,000 Meadowlands Pace elimination.
Eastern Ontario-based trainer Mark Steacy, assisted by his son Shawn, trains the son of Somebeachsomewhere, who has post five [program number four] with George Brennan to drive in race ten on the 13-race card.
Sunshine Beach has four wins, a second and third in 11 career starts, with earnings of $147,580 for Hudson Standardbred Stable of Hudson, Quebec, Cinrad Leber of Montreal, Quebec and Diane Bertrand of Edmonton, Alberta.
His selection as a yearling was a familiar family affair.
“Usually, when we go to the sales it’s me, my dad, my mother and my grandfather,” said Shawn Steacy. “The four of us do the picking. This colt is the eleventh foal of the dam [Light Up]. She’s a one hundred percent producer.”
Sunshine Beach only made six starts as a freshman, and because of his physical stature he took awhile to figure things out.
“He’s always been a smart horse and great to deal with since Day One,” noted the younger Steacy. “He broke real easy, but he was a very tall, growthy colt. He always had the speed, but just had to his gait figure out. He would always get a little rough coming off the final turn and later in the mile.
“It was a little bit of both physical and mental maturity for him. He has really long legs and a long body. He’s more like a thoroughbred compared to the average standardbred, and he was more like an uncoordinated teenager.”
Turning three, Sunshine Beach began to blossom.
“He had a great Winter and trained well the entire way,” said Shawn. “We had to wait until he got to the high speed he needs to go to see if he could handle it.”
Sunshine Beach enjoyed a mild break-out party when he rallied with a final quarter of :26.1 to win his $72,750 division of the Somebeachsomewhere on June 1 at Mohawk in career best of 1:49.2.
“We always knew the speed was there, but that was the first time he beat some good, quality colts,” Shawn noted. “His gait was smooth that night. When he put all of his tools together for the first time, that’s when we knew we had a serious player.”
Next up, Sunshine Beach turned in a solid effort to qualify for the $980,000 North America Cup Final at Mohawk.
“After finishing a good third to Captaintreacherous in our elimination we were hoping for a check in the final,” Steacy recalled. “We were parked the mile following Captaintreacherous third over. On the final turn Captaintreacherous gapped, so our driver [Chris Christoforou] tipped three wide. Then, Captaintreacherous kicked in again, and we were all out to be fifth.”
Sunshine Beach makes his first American start fresh off another 1:49.2 tally at Mohawk.
“Last week, he was in against some classy older horses, and we didn’t know what to expect,” admitted Steacy. “The hot pace worked to our advantage and he was able to outkick them in :26.4. So, the long stretch at the Meadowlands might help him. He’s not as quick-footed as some of the others. It takes him a few strides to get up to his speed because he’s such a big boy.
“We’re based in Lansdowne, Ontario, and only twenty minutes from the Thousand Islands border crossing. He’s shipping down Thursday to Mark Ford’s training center in Middletown, New York.”
George Brennan, a Meadowlands Pace winner in his first attempt in 1996 with Hot Lead, will look to qualify for his eleventh final. It would be his first drive in the Pace since finishing third with Valentino in 2010.
“I called George Brennan out of the blue a few days ago, and he said he was good to drive him,” said Steacy. “We’ve had good luck with him in the past. George knows his way around the track.
“You can make a case for six or seven horses in the elimination without Captaintreacherous in there, but I believe we have a top five three-year-old in North America right now.”
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