08/14/2013 1:56PM

Arlington Million: Little Mike draws post 11 for repeat bid

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Barbara D. Livingston
Little Mike was a front-running winner of last year's Arlington Million and will try to repeat that effort Saturday from post 11.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Little Mike’s bid to become the first winner of back-to-back Arlington Millions started with at least a small measure of success at the Million post position draw.

The Million draw, officially conducted late Tuesday but unveiled Wednesday afternoon at WGN studios in Chicago, put Little Mike in post 11. Little Mike’s early speed should cancel out any negative aspect of being drawn wide, and he is favorably positioned outside the Million’s other main pace player, Nates Mineshaft, who drew post 4.

The two pace rivals are among 13 entered in the 1 1/4-mile Million. Little Mike beat 10 foes here last year, and if all the entrants make the gate, it will be the first 13-horse Million since 2004.

Also announced Wednesday were fields for Saturday’s other three major turf races. Nine fillies and mares, headed by Marketing Mix, were entered in the Grade 1, $750,000 Beverly D. There are 13 3-year-olds in the Grade 1, $500,000 Secretariat, that race’s largest field since 1994. Eight were entered in the second edition of the American St. Leger, a turf marathon won by the Marco Botti-trained Jakkalberry last year, and that has the Botti-trained Dandino as a 9-5 morning-line favorite Saturday.

While this Million looks stronger than the one Little Mike won, Little Mike himself looks weaker. He won the 2012 Million, leading all the way on a slow pace, after winning the Grade 1 Turf Classic and finishing a good third in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile. This year, he has only eighth- and 11th-place finishes in Dubai and a fading fourth in the July 6 United Nations on his résumé.

Trainer Dale Romans said on a conference call this week that Little Mike had wrenched an ankle in the Dubai Duty Free on March 30, and that Little Mike had lost weight during his Dubai trip. Little Mike was freshened upon his return home, and Romans said a fast, contested pace in the United Nations, combined with Little Mike’s less-than-ideal early-season schedule, had contributed to defeat.

“I think that United Nations was better than it looked on paper,” Romans said. “He got pressed early. He’s come back and had some nice works.”

Nates Mineshaft is a confirmed front-runner, and his jockey, E.T. Baird, a noted front-end rider. Little Mike rated off the pace in winning the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf, but Romans suggested that jockey Joel Rosario will use Little Mike’s speed Saturday.

“We’re not going to take his run out of him,” Romans said. “That’d be my first preference – open up a couple lengths and see if they can catch him.”

Little Mike is the 5-1 third choice on Arlington’s morning line, and morning-line favorite Grandeur had no luck at the draw, landing post 13. No horse in 20 renewals of the Million has won from a post wider than 12, though only 13 horses have tried. John Henry came closest, finishing second from post 13 in 1983 after winning from post 12 in 1981.

Grandeur, a fast-finishing English shipper, almost certainly will drop in, looking for early position, before hitting the clubhouse turn. Jockey William Buick is tasked with working out a trip.

Grandeur is one of six overseas Million shippers; Hunter’s Light, Side Glance, Mull of Killough, Guest of Honour, and The Apache are the others. The Apache worked five furlongs on turf in 1:04.40 here Wednesday. Indy Point, the 9-2 second choice on the morning line, has made one U.S. start, winning the Wickerr Stakes after being imported from Argentina. Indy Point is well drawn in post 7.

Breaking from post 12 is Rahystrada, who is making an unprecedented fourth start in the Million. The others in the race are the rail-drawn Real Solution – one of five Ken and Sarah Ramsey-owned runners in the four big races – and Finnegans Wake and Temeraine, a pair of longshots.

Post time for the Million, the last of the major stakes on a 12-race Saturday card, is scheduled for 5:44 p.m. Central. The race will be televised on a one-hour broadcast by WGN.

Dave More than 1 year ago
Little Mike had one huge thing going for him in last year's Million... Ramon Dominguez.
Dennis Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
WATCHOUT FOR NATES MINESHAFT TURF LOVER FRONT RUNNER ALSO LITTLE MIKE I LOVE BOTH OF THESE HORSES THEY MIGHT STEAL RACE ON FRONT END.GOOD LUCK TO ALL
Chris Gile More than 1 year ago
When did Nates mineshaft become a turf lover? Was it that 1 race on turf when he beat optional claimers last month? Real impressive!!!! With LM & Natesmineshaft in race, nobody is stealing the race on the front. They learned their lesson last year and ET Baird knows only one way to ride. This will be a sped duel and will set up for a closer.
Steve More than 1 year ago
Joe Bravo should get the mount, he knows Little Mike the best. These connections are shooting themselves in the foot, he is a bet against.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
A win for Little Mike here makes him Turf Horse of the Year. I'm pulling for him. Safe trips to all.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Chadwick, he will not hit the board..As for your Turf Horse of the Year, Toss up...
Raymond Hackinson More than 1 year ago
The Arlington is usually a great race. Why doesn't NY racing have a similar race with international flavor? What is so special about Chicago that they get the Million?
Joe Rockhold More than 1 year ago
Arlington is very much worthy of such a card. It's an absolutely beautiful racetrack and facility and these are the only G1 races run in Illinois each and every year I believe. NY has plenty of great races, Chicago can have their Million Day.
You Feel Lucky More than 1 year ago
They dont get the Million..........they put up the Million.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Every and all racetracks should have there Big Day of racing. Regardless of quality., Race tracks should just put it up. The Kings and Queens of the best sport. Horse Racing....
David Chrzanowski More than 1 year ago
I’ve been at many of the great race places – Saratoga, Gulfstream, Oak Lawn, Woodbine, Del Mar, Churchill, and others but frankly Arlington is the classiest venue of them all. Unfortunately the quality of racing in Illinois is not what it used to be - but for Million Day it’s tops.
Terry Don More than 1 year ago
It was even better in the old days,great history to the old place,I saw Big Red run,a few weeks after the Belmont.
prlyr4lyf More than 1 year ago
The Apache cruises to an easy victory!
Perl More than 1 year ago
Doesn't want 10f.
Alejandro Anza More than 1 year ago
Indy point will winn.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Overhyped.
tim More than 1 year ago
Like wise Dan
Perl More than 1 year ago
Yes, just like Wise Dan. Except Wise Dan has won several million and several big US Stakes races, and Indy Point has won $560k and one US stakes race at a mile over Endorsement.
Perl More than 1 year ago
And it was a restricted stakes race with a $95k purse. Please pound this horse at the windows!
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Tim , you obviously don't get this game. You should try baseball, now that game has a lot of hype to talk about.....
Joe Rockhold More than 1 year ago
Have to disagree, I think he has a big shot. Looking at what little info there was on his past races, I was really concerned about him shortening up to a mile in his US debut as it appears he was closing from the clouds in his most recent mile and 1/2 turf race in his home country. The fact that he was right up close to the pace at a mile tells me he can be positioned anywhere Stevens wants and I have no concern about his getting the distance. The firm turf is another big plus for him.
Joe Rockhold More than 1 year ago
Also, Mandella is a fantastic trainer who knows how to win this race. (The Tin Man)
Perl More than 1 year ago
Fair enough. I just feel as if he'll be overbet relative to what he has proven thus far. He's a big buzz horse. I'm looking for a longshot in this race.
Joe Rockhold More than 1 year ago
I agree it doesn't look like he'll be a good bet to win but he'll be on my pick 4 and on top of most of my exotics along with a couple shippers. Best of luck to you!
m4TTz HaHa More than 1 year ago
Guest of Honour upsets them all!
Perl More than 1 year ago
Live longshot.
Anil More than 1 year ago
Indy Point is my pick. He was ultra impressive in his last start.
Chris Gile More than 1 year ago
against a cheap stakes company
Lawrence Michalets More than 1 year ago
I am looking forward to the race