06/27/2012 3:55PM

Hollywood Park: Little Mike gives California a try in Shoemaker Mile

Tom Keyser
Little Mike, winner of the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic last month, will make his first California appearance in Saturday's Shoemaker Mile.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Good luck trying to keep pace with Little Mike in Saturday’s $300,000 Shoemaker Mile at Betfair Hollywood Park, trainer Dale Romans said.

“I don’t think anyone will get in front of him,” Romans said. “If they do, they won’t finish well. He’s fast.”

Owned by Priscilla Vaccarezza, Little Mike has won 10 of 17 starts and $830,412.

The Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile will be Little Mike’s first start in California. A 5-year-old gelding, Little Mike has won five stakes in Florida and Kentucky, most recently the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in a 12-1 upset on the Kentucky Derby program at Churchill Downs on May 5.

The Shoemaker Mile is a pivotal race for Little Mike, and may not be his only California start this year. The race is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge program, offering a fees-paid berth to the winner for the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. That race is a long-term goal for Romans with Little Mike.

Romans began training Little Mike in early 2011 after the horse was transferred from trainer Allen Iwinski. For Romans, Little Mike has won 5 of 7 starts and overcome a condylar fracture of a cannon bone that left him sidelined for more than eight months last year.

“He came to me in good shape,” Romans said. “He grew up and became a better racehorse. The time off probably did him some good.”

Romans won the 2009 Shoemaker Mile with Thorn Song.

In Saturday’s race, Little Mike must hold off a threat from Mr. Commons, who has won two stakes and finished second in two stakes since Christmas; and Jeranimo, who won the Grade 2 Citation Handicap here last fall.

The race is expected to include the four-time Argentine Grade 1 winner Suggestive Boy, who has yet to start in the United States. Widely considered Argentina’s top horse of 2011, Suggestive Boy joined trainer Ron McAnally’s stable last winter and has worked steadily in recent weeks.