12/19/2012 4:25PM

Gulfstream Park: Little Mike will experiment on synthetic surface to determine Dubai World Cup status

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Tom Keyser
Breeders' Cup Turf winner Little Mike will be pointed toward Dubai. Still to be determined is whether he will run in the $10 million Dubai World Cup or the Dubai Sheema Classic on turf.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Little Mike won two of the most prestigious grass races in this country in 2012, the Arlington Million and Breeders’ Cup Turf. His next major goal could be the richest race in the world, the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

Owner Carlo Vaccarezza and trainer Dale Romans have both confirmed that Little Mike will make his first two starts in 2013 in Dubai. The first of those races will be over a synthetic surface as a possible prep for the World Cup, which is run over a Tapeta surface at Meydan. Little Mike has never raced over a synthetic surface but trained on Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park with exercise rider Tammy Fox prior to his third-place finish this past summer in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile.

“Tammy said she loved the way he went on the [synthetic track] when he trained over it in California so I think we should probably go over and give him a shot,” said Romans. “We have two or three races to choose from in Meydan as a possible prep for World Cup Day. The main one is three weeks out, at a mile and one quarter. I’ll have to talk to them over there and figure out the dates and exactly how and when we can get him there.”

Romans said if Little Mike runs well on synthetics, he will be entered in the World Cup. If not, he will start in the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic on the turf.

“If we don’t like the way he runs on the [Tapeta], we can go back to the turf race,” said Romans, who is also planning to take Dullahan to Dubai for the World Cup.

Little Mike is among the leading candidates for an Eclipse Award as both the champion male turf horse and as Horse of the Year. In addition to the Arlington Million and Breeders’ Cup Turf, Little Mike won the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and the Sunshine Millions Turf when launching his campaign here at Gulfstream Park last January. Little Mike will likely have his first work since the Breeders’ Cup sometime next week.

Romans has been training pretty well himself of late, having lost nearly 50 pounds while working out with the University of Louisville basketball team.

“Rick Pitino called me and invited me over to the team’s practice facility, which is located only a mile from Churchill Downs,” said Romans. “I went over to see him and he gives me the strength coach, the trainer, a nutritionist, shirts, shoes, shorts, a locker in the coaches’ locker room and a key to get into the building and says ‘So what’s your excuse now?’”

Romans said not only has he taken off all the weight, he’s having a blast working out with the Cardinals.

“They’re a great bunch of kids and fun to be around, but they haven’t let me out on the court yet,” said Romans, who has one horse in training for Pitino.

Greg Rouch More than 1 year ago
Wow, I thought the World Cup Classic would tank now that they switched to Tapeta - great surface, but not for most American dirt horses - but it's getting a second wind, after all. If Animal Kingdom, Royal Delta, Little Mike, Dullahan and more show up from America to challenge some top horses from the rest of the world, the race could have one of its best fields in years. 702Ray: So dirt racing is NOT "about your trip and handling the surface?!" Between them, those two things cover almost everything! You are right, however, about how the synthetic surface at Meydan is a game changer for horses coming out of WC races and going back into racing Stateside, if that is what you meant. I think they will fare better going forward than they did in the days of dirt at Nad al Sheba. Frank: Well Armed fits into the latter category. As Ray says, the old rule doesn't necessarily apply. Well Armed was inconsistent, anyway, and went through one, fairly brief phase when he was in top form. He wasn't good enough to maintain success against top competition.
geno More than 1 year ago
DALE!!!!!
Frank More than 1 year ago
I know you people are smart -- ever heard of a great gelding named - Well Armed. What was the last major race this horse won? What happened after that great victory when he returned from it?
Leonard Bayer More than 1 year ago
should be horse of the year.
B More than 1 year ago
Little Mike is NOT a leading candidate for Horse of the Year! Where does that come from?! Even him winning the male grass horse Eclipse is questionable with Wise Dan's record, but at least that is contest. For grass horse, I'm not sure who should win as they both have solid credentials. I'm still angry about Point of Entry's second as there would be no contest in this category if he had won the BC Turf and I still think he is the better grass horse, but shoulda, woulda, coulda. He didn't win it.
Ponies Payme More than 1 year ago
Maybe not, but Wise Dan has NO SHOT at winning the classic over there and Mike does.
Suzanne Thomas More than 1 year ago
What a classy thing for Rick PItino to do! I was always worried about Dale. I'm glad he is having success in his "battle of the bulge."
702Ray More than 1 year ago
I stopped caring about the Duabi world cup when they went to a synthetic surface.. I think synthetic racing is garbage.. The results are very random and its just so much more about your trip and handling the surface than anything else. Im a big fan of Little Mike I hope he handles the track and goes for the big bucks and beats out Dulahan(sp). Frank get a clue Romans is among the most sporting of all the trainers out there. The "getting ruined in Dubai" is a thing of the past. Royal Delta, Game on Dude returned to have fantastic seasons', You are a small thinker and can't comprehend what they are trying to accomplish with Little Mike.. what a resume it would be for Mike to win the Arlingtom Million, BC Turf and Dubai World it's horsmen like Romans that create legends not guys like u who take the short safe way all the time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So it was fine when only US horses were winning the World Cup when it was on a surface only American horses run over? get bent cry baby.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
I'm laying 13:1 that this anon creep would never face a man with his left handed, light weight insult. Wiggle on back to France with it...
tom More than 1 year ago
hey i think little mike does his best at a 1 1/4 . im in full support
Ceil Rock More than 1 year ago
We expect the Europeans to send their best horses here for the Breeders Cup. We should return the favor and send our best horses to the World Cup. Animal Kingdon and Royal Delta are also going to Dubai. Let's give the trainers a little credit for knowing their business. Little Mike is a young horse and he is not going to be "ruined".
702Ray More than 1 year ago
Royal Delta went last year and it was the worst start of her career she is not gong back this year and Animal Kingdom is injured and will not make the trip. ihave a feeling we may have seen him run for the last time.
tom More than 1 year ago
Animal Kingdom is the U.S.'s best chance at victory on the synthetic track. He will be rested and primed for a big one. Little Mike will do his connections proud, but I don't think he will have the same powerful burst on this stage.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
This is why Romans will win Trainer of The Year. And congrats too on the personal workouts.