10/17/2012 3:56PM

Breeders' Cup Mile: Little Mike faces possible pace conflict

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A solid workout this past Saturday at Churchill Downs has sent Little Mike to California for a start in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. It also has put him on a potential collision course with the leading grass miler in California, Obviously.

Obviously has won all three of his starts – including the Oct. 6 Arroyo Seco, the major local BC Mile prep – since being stretched from sprints to short two-turn races. The three successes have come on the front end, with Obviously running sub-46 second half-mile splits in all his two-turn starts. That’s the running style that Little Mike employs. The question now is how much early speed will Little Mike show coming out of two longer, slower-paced races.

Little Mike won the Arlington Million after leading through a half-mile split barely faster than 50 seconds. In the 1  1/2-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on Sept. 29, Little Mike went a half-mile in about 52 seconds before dropping tamely away on a wet course he apparently loathed. But just three starts ago, in the Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita, Little Mike was on the lead through a half-mile in 46 seconds and change. Moreover, in nine of his 10 turf races at 1 1/16 miles and shorter, Little Mike has been the first-call leader.

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A Mile pace showdown – and, perhaps, meltdown – might be inevitable between Little Mike and Obviously.

Door open for Excelebration

After the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes is contested on Saturday at Ascot in England, the BC Mile picture will be all but complete. While Elusive Kate, one of the top horses in the QE II, was apparently ruled out of a Breeders’ Cup appearance during the last week, the race favorite, Excelebration, could easily wheel back for the BC Mile. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Excelebration hasn’t raced since Aug. 12 and has made only four starts this season, leaving him fresh for a fall campaign. Excelebration has raced in Frankel’s shadow for much of his career, and once away from that super-horse won the Prix Jacques Le Marois by 1 1/2 lengths over QE II starter Cityscape in his most recent appeareance.

Gordon Lord Byron passes on free pass

The connections of Gordon Lord Byron are passing the BC Mile despite their horse’s victory Oct. 7 in the Group 1 Prix de la Foret, a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In race.

While the Foret win earned Gordon Lord Byron an automatic berth in the Mile and would have paid for his entry fee plus $20,000 for transport, Gordon Lord Byron isn’t an original Breeders’ Cup nominee, meaning his connections would have to pay $100,000 to supplement the gelding to the race.

“We’ve made up our mind and we’re not traveling right now,” trainer Tom Hogan said Wednesday. “We might see you at the Breeders’ Cup next year.”

Gordon Lord Byron, Hogan said, remains in steady training and will make his next start in the Hong Kong Mile.

Larry More than 1 year ago
no mention of the winner---Wise Dan
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
amazing how much prestige the breeders cup has lost that a free entry and traveling costs dont entice horses to race here anymore,they prefer to go to hong kong.clearly theres a shift going on and u.s racing officials should wake up to the fact that their product is loosing prestige.when a horse that would be 9/5 refuses to come for free somethings up.i suspect that because of all the drugs and the cheating that goes on a win on our soil is now deteremental to a stallions resume,they would rather have a asian gr1 than a usa gr1 even if it is a bc.this years bc is going to be a sad affair of gr3 quality horses pretending to be gr1 horses,or does anybody believe that ron the greek,flat out or even game on dude and company compare to real gr1 horse of the past like cigar,ghostzapper,tiznow or even the beaten europeans like giants causeway .the best one game on dude had his head handed to him in the dubai world cup finishing up the track,as did royal delta.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Royal Delta got knocked around and shut off pretty badly. Don't toss her - toss that race.
Micahdog More than 1 year ago
L'il Mike can come from off the pace as per 12-10-10 Gulfstream 7.5 furlong race whre h eclosed last 3.5 furlongs in 42.65 seconds while being checked. However, that said who knows how the paces in the turf races will shape up on Santa Anita's green concrete. Will be difficult for REAL turf horses to show up at Sanat Anita BC so if you like be sure you are getting an overlaid price or 'don't throw the dice'.
Gerardo Helguera More than 1 year ago
If Little Mike goes in the Mile then I'll take Mr. Commons at a nice price and hope he shows his turn of foot he's shown at Santa Anita
Mike More than 1 year ago
The single most overrated horse in training today is Mr. COMMON
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
If all's well, there is no doubt Trainer Romans will let him go look that other horse in the eye.