Sunny Sunrise gets a chance for redemption and could top the $1 million mark in earnings today in the eighth running of the $175,000 Baltimore Budweiser Breeders' Cup Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at Laurel Race Course.
In last year's race, Excellent Tipper -- trained by Howie Tesher -- drove past Sunny Sunrise in the stretch to win by a head and set the Laurel track record for 1 1/8 miles: 1 minute, 47 3/5 seconds.
"[Sunny Sunrise] ran his heart out," said Grover "Bud" Delp, the horse's trainer. "It was a track record, and he ran a winning race. We just hope we can turn the tables."
Sunny Sunrise posted two wins in three races this year before trailing in the muddy Washington Park Handicap on May 31.
"It rained every day we were there and the track was sloppy," Delp said. "He didn't get a hold in the first quarter mile. He's a one-dimensional horse, and he needs that lead."
Before that 13th-place finish, Sunny Sunrise, the high weight for today's race at 120 pounds, had won the John B. Campbell and Ben Ali handicaps to push his earnings to $934,219 in 41 lifetime races.
Mark Johnston, today's jockey for Sunny Sunrise, last rode the 6-year-old gelding to a fourth-place finish on Feb. 27 in the Johnson Memorial Handicap at Laurel.
Johnston was the seventh-leading jockey at the recently completed Pimlico Race Course meet with 25 wins.
Excellent Tipper has hit the board in 17 of 26 lifetime starts but has been inconsistent in his two starts this year.
Excellent Tipper, a 5-year-old gelding, in his first race this year narrowly lost on the turf at Churchill Downs on April 25. In his most recent start, however, he finished in sixth place, eight lengths back in the Metropolitan Mile on May 31.
Baron Mathew, Snappy Landing and Alyten -- the three top finishers of the Suffolk Downs Budweiser Breeders' Cup on May 22 -- also are in the field of eight. Michael Luzzi, the second-leading jockey at the Pimlico meet with 50 wins, will ride Baron Mathew.
The Baltimore Budweiser Breeders' Cup is the 19th of 49 races in the 1993 Special Stakes Program, which includes more than $6.5 million in total purses from the Breeders' Cup and 41 participating tracks in the United States and Canada.
In addition to the Baltimore Budweiser Breeders' Cup, the $300,000 Ohio Derby will be simulcast today at Laurel.
Boundlessly is the early favorite in the 59th running of this nine-furlong race.
Woods of Windsor and Rockamundo, both of whom raced in the Preakness, also are entered.