03/13/2013 4:03PM

Dubai: Little Mike goes back to turf and gets Stevens

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Barbara D. Livingston
Little Mike will target either the $5 million Sheema Classic or the $5 million Duty Free.

Little Mike will return to turf racing for the Dubai World Cup card on March 30, according to Carlo Vaccarezza, who bred Little Mike and whose wife, Priscilla, owns the Breeders’ Cup Turf winner. Vaccarezza also confirmed that Gary Stevens will pick up the mount on Little Mike in his World Cup race, replacing Kieren Fallon, who was aboard for Little Mike’s eighth-place finish in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 on March 9.

Stevens also will ride the other Dale Romans-trained horse racing March 30 at Meydan, Dullahan, whose target is the $10 million World Cup. Fallon rode Dullahan to a troubled 11th-place finish in the Burj Nahaar.

Little Mike tried a synthetic surface for the first time in the Al Maktoum Challenge. Had he excelled, he, too, could have started in the World Cup. Instead, Little Mike, a three-time Grade 1 turf winner in 2012, will target either the $5 million Sheema Classic over about 1 1/2 miles or the $5 million Duty Free over about 1 1/8 miles, Vaccarezza said.

The Sheema Classic holds appeal because Little Mike could wind up controlling a slow tempo in the race. The City of Gold Stakes, the Meydan prep for the Sheema Classic, unfolded at a glacial pace on March 9.

In other World Cup news, trainer Graham Motion said Tuesday that Joel Rosario would ride Animal Kingdom in the World Cup. Rosario was aboard Animal Kingdom for the first time for a second-place finish in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap last month. Rosario received widespread criticism for his decision to make an early move to the lead with Animal Kingdom, who was caught in the stretch by Point of Entry.

“I’m not a big believer in jerking riders off a horse just because they make one mistake,” said Motion. “And sometimes it takes an experience like that for a rider to get to know a horse better.”

Animal Kingdom worked seven furlongs in company with Badleroibrown on Monday over the Palm Meadows turf course, a breeze timed in 1:26.77. Animal Kingdom is scheduled to work again on Monday, March 18, before shipping to Dubai the next day.

On the flight with Animal Kingdom will be Florida-based champion Royal Delta, who has one final piece of work of her own to do at Payson Park before traveling to Dubai for the second year in a row.

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch

Richard More than 1 year ago
I think Gary Stevens is going to do as good as the horses run with his two mounts he has with Dale Romans. I liked how Dale has done these last two years with his horses. I wish him and Gary the best of luck.
Cranky More than 1 year ago
I'm wishing the very best for our American horses, all of them. My personal favorite is Animal Kingdom and I'd like to see him go out as the Champion that he is. But, too, I think we need a training facility up on the California desert, or Nevada, that these horses that are going to race at Dubai could train on. I do believe the changes in climate and surface do make a very great deal of difference on our horses. They really can't train properly without this exposure, long term. The change is just too much, too fast. Good luck to all of our American horses this year.
Forego137 More than 1 year ago
Little Mike and Dullahan should come back to the US after their failed experiment and not jepordize the rest of their season here in the USA. A.K. Might have a chance but only if he runs on the Turf. JMO. Remember you heard it here first . . . .
Rene More than 1 year ago
so US based horses ship to DUBAI and hope to win ??? on GODOLPHIN's own turf ??? i'm no genius but come on now.....not impossible but highly UNLIKELY.....here's my 2 cents...the DUBAI WORLD CUP......AGAIN.....will be won by a LONGSHOT......as in the last 5 years or so......DOUBLE DIGIT ODDS !!!!
Frederick Jones More than 1 year ago
the only thing "double digit" is your IQ, Sincerely, USA based Dubai World Cup Winners: Silver Charm Well Armed Curlin Pleasantly Perfect Roses in May Captain Steve Invasor and soon to be, Royal Delta
Frederick Jones More than 1 year ago
oh yeah, and ....................CIGAR !
Ryan Jones More than 1 year ago
USA based Dubai World Cup Winners: Silver Charm - DIRT Well Armed - DIRT Curlin - DIRT Pleasantly Perfect - DIRT Roses in May - DIRT Captain Steve - DIRT Invasor - DIRT
Ryan Jones More than 1 year ago
None were from the last 5 years either... talking about double digit IQ's...Rene actually makes some sense.
Chris More than 1 year ago
I THINK ROSARIO IS THE TOP GO TO GUY IN RACING YOU WANT THE JOB DONE HE KNOWS THE WAYS IN RACING CAN"T WAIT TO SEE HIM IN DUBAI.
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
Where did Romans come up with, a prep over there, its taxing enough for one race, Then the jock, what Frankie wasn't available ?
joakim muth More than 1 year ago
If you follow racing ou should know that Frankie is suspended for drugabuse.
Randy Atkins More than 1 year ago
Frankie Detori is serving a suspension
mrm More than 1 year ago
That was some prep. The horse didn't run a step.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
You can thank Fallon for that, which is why he won't be back.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Cvr2, You do know that Romans has won this race, right?
B More than 1 year ago
If there is one "class" horse in the country that I do not like at all and that I think was the biggest sucker bet of all of 2012 , it is Dullahan. Never liked him, still don't and not even happy typing his name. I wish he'd just retire instead of taking people's money. Like Stevens though.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
And when he wins World Cup? Just cause he is a synthetic monster doesn't mean he is a sucker bet. DULLAHAN.DULLAHAN.DULLAHAN.DULLAHAN.
mrm More than 1 year ago
Did you see his "prep" ? He has no shot.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
5-1 in the pacific classic @delmar over chalky game on dude wasn't a sucker bet
Frank Kulcsar More than 1 year ago
Little Mike--Joe Bravo-like the old Jersey motto-Perfect Together
Debbie Tobias Dono More than 1 year ago
Jeez was thinking the same. Didn't A. Iwinski have em when he started his run?
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
Lookey here, Father Time jumping on the Roman's pair! I think this will benefit Little Mike a ton and with Stevens riding now becomes a usable horse in the exotic bets. I still don't think he has the class of some of the runners he will face but his prep race should serve him well moving back to the turf. Gary Stevens is a master on the turf and will put this horse in a position to deliver his very best, win or lose. Dullahan has two chances, slim and none, Slim left town yesterday and nun lives in a convent! Good luck Gary we are pulling for you.
Bruce Baudoux More than 1 year ago
The Florida fiasco is now behind us and we must look forward to Dubai. The race should have helped move him forward in his conditioning even though he didn't win.His workout the other morning signals his readiness and I imagine Motion will turn the screws just a little tighter for his last work here. I still don't think he has a legitimate chance to finish in front of the Godolphin runners but nevertheless it is one last kick at the cat for Team Valor on the world's biggest stage. It is interesting Rosario is riding him back after the way Motion layed the blame on him for getting beat by a superior animal the previous race. Good luck to all involved but enjoy the scenery, it may be the highlights of your trip.