06/14/2013 3:21PM

Churchill Downs: Little Mike set for second half

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Tom Keyser
Little Mike is being pointed for the United Nations at Monmouth Park.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Little Mike, an Eclipse Award turf division finalist last year, is gearing up for an ambitious second half of 2013 after recently returning to Churchill Downs following a brief rest.

Trainer Dale Romans said Friday that he is eager to see Little Mike back in peak form after the gelding began his 6-year-old campaign by running poorly in back-to-back races in Dubai in March.

Romans said Little Mike, bred and owned by Carlo and Priscilla Vaccarezza, is on a schedule intended to lead to the Grade 1, $500,000 United Nations Stakes on July 6 at Monmouth Park.

“I’m not 100 percent sure we’ll make the Monmouth race, but if not, it won’t kill me,” Romans said. “Our two biggest goals are making it back to the [Aug. 17] Arlington Million and the [Nov. 2] Breeders’ Cup Turf,” two races Little Mike won last year.

The United Nations is run at 1 3/8 miles on turf, and Romans said that even though Little Mike just returned to his barn recently after getting time off at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky., “I’d rather him run in a longer race like that than a mile, where you’ve got to run hard every step. The pace scenario ought to be easier on him in a longer race like that. We’ll make sure he’s fit enough before we commit.”

Another Romans standout, Dullahan, also has returned from WinStar and was scheduled to breeze Saturday at Churchill, marking his first official workout since late February, before he departed for Dubai.

“I have no thoughts on his next race,” Romans said.