11/04/2012 3:02PM

Breeders' Cup Turf: Little Mike could journey to Dubai in early 2013

Emily Shields
Breeders' Cup Turf winner Little Mike and runner-up Point of Entry could wind up facing each other again sometime in 2013.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Little Mike’s win in Saturday’s $2,727,000 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita could lead to an international campaign in 2013.

Trainer Dale Romans said after the race that “all options are open. We’ll look at Dubai.”

The question of which race on the Dubai World Cup program at Meydan Racecourse in March would suit Little Mike may not be determined until early next year. Little Mike could be considered for two $5 million turf races – the Dubai Duty Free over about 1 1/8 miles or the Sheema Classic over about 1 1/2 miles. Both annually draw tough international fields.

The win in the Grade 1 BC Turf was his first win over 1 1/2 miles. He stalked the pace for the first mile, a change from previous tactics when he took the lead shortly after the start. The win has changed the way that Romans and owners Carlo and Priscilla Vaccarezza perceive the 5-year-old Little Mike.

“He’s a major overachiever and he’s proven us all wrong,” Romans said. “I don’t think [we] thought he could be more than a miler last year. Now we don’t know what his limit is.”

Little Mike won three Grade 1 races on turf in 2012, including the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic over 1 1/8 miles at Churchill Downs in May and the Arlington Million over 1 1/4 miles at Arlington Park in August. He was fifth in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic over 1 1/2 miles at Belmont Park on Sept. 29 over a yielding turf course that he did not prefer, Romans said.

Despite his three Grade 1 wins in important races, Little Mike is likely to be overshadowed by the star turf miler Wise Dan in the discussions for champion turf horse. Wise Dan won the BC Mile after Little Mike’s win.

Still, there was a bit of championship campaigning in the press conference after the BC Turf from Little Mike’s team.

“He should win the Eclipse Award for turf,” said Carlo Vaccarezza, who bred Little Mike. “I don’t think there is any question who should be champion.”

What is remarkable about Little Mike is the versatility that he showed through the season, successfully extending his ability beyond a mile.

As recently as Oct. 28, Little Mike was a candidate for the BC Mile until Romans and the Vaccarezzas discussed the two races.

“We didn’t think we could control the Mile,” Romans said. “There are fast horses in there. In the Mile, there were horses that could get in front and we couldn’t outrun them.”

Little Mike, who is by the Unbridled stallion Spanish Steps, ends his season with a career record of 12 wins in 21 starts and earnings of $3,074,412.

He is likely to face BC Turf runner Point of Entry at some point in 2013.

Sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the BC Turf, Point of Entry was as far back as ninth in the field of 12 on the backstretch. He made a significant move in the final furlong, but the rally fell short by a half-length. Point of Entry finished three-quarters of a length in front of defending champion St Nicholas Abbey.

Trainer Shug McGaughey said on Sunday that 2013 plans for Point of Entry have not been determined. But after a successful flight and race in California, Point of Entry could do more traveling.

“I was pleasantly surprised that he traveled so well,” McGaughey said. “That does open up more doors for us. We might think about a U.S. campaign. I can’t rule out Dubai.”