06/27/2012 3:55PM

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

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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.

Lucifer More than 1 year ago
Grass races rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Frank More than 1 year ago
you are right -- I've been betting turf races exclusively for a decade now. The fields are bigger which makes odds better, the races are more exciting, and best of all people in the U.S. dont understand turf racing as much since our preference here is dirt racing.
Kevin More than 1 year ago
Inside post & one of the most underrated turf jocks, makes this a cakewalk ...Dubai You X Y Z & Mr Commons round off the tri key ...
Ronnie Malo Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
I love this move by Romans to get Little Mike out west, and get used to the harder turf courses of Cali. Not sure if he'll win, I like Jeranimo to run late. This horse has the tools to be a BC winner.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Little Mike will have the lead in the Shoemaker, no doubt. The key for him and the rest of the field will be how close Liberian Freighter is able to be to this lead. Liberian Frieghter is a quality speed horse, a 3-time graded stakes winner, and he can run sub-1:10 fractions for 6 furlongs. However, when Liberian Freighter met a horse similar in speed to Little Mike, Sidney's Candy, in last year's American Cap' at the same mile distance at Hollywood, Liberian Freighter stalked before tiring badly. Significant, though, is that Freighter's presence took just enough out of Sidney's Candy that Ryehill Dreamer was able to tag him at the wire. Because Freighter is in the field, Little Mike's not going to be able to walk the dog like he did in the Woodford Reserve. He's going to have to set a very legit pace in the Shoemaker, and then deal with solid stalkers in Hudson Landing and Dubai You X Y Z and then quality graded stakes closers in Jeranimo and Mr. Commons. But Little Mike is the horse to beat. Good for Romans and the owners recognizing a mile turf division out in California that, with Mr. Commons looking rather common his last two races, is there for the taking.
Perl More than 1 year ago
That's a solid analysis. I'd take a shot against Little Mike in this spot. He will be overbet coming off the win at CD. Mr Commons looks highly logical 2nd off the layoff, but you have to be concerned about smitty taking him 15-wide. I find myself intrigued by the McAnally/Talamo Argentinian horse. Will watch the board for clues.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Talamo on turf is bad enough, no shot in a G1. Suggestive Boy is a throw out, I hope he gets bet. The Hollywood turf course is also not conducive to closers, looking for Mr. Commons to finish off the board. I will concentrate on Dubai You XYZ, Corporate Jungle, Little Mike and Jeranimo.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Corporate Jungle is interesting. He lacks the class of a Little Mike, but Brown ships him in. He's been really solid his last 5 starts, working his way up the ladder, but he's skipping a couple of rungs in here. Would have liked to have seen some efforts at the grade 2 level, at the least. But does seem to have some upside. The two shippers really help make this a field worthy of the grade 1 status.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
The last time I doubted Chad Brown was when he shipped Imagining to last year's Hollywood Derby. I thought he had no shot, The fact is that there are better turf horses on the East coast and their speed figures tend to be assigned more conservatively than those west coast turf horses. There's a chance that Corporate Jungle could be neglected in the wagering.
Gene Martin More than 1 year ago
I have seen Little Mike in person, he is a beast!
MR More than 1 year ago
It's sad, but I'll have to hope that LM gets thumped so I don't have to suffer through looking at his connections perform for TV "face-time" after the race. That display they put on after the Woodford Reserve on Derby day was nothing less than very bad Gong Show material.
denali1 More than 1 year ago
I love this horse!! i root for little mike because he is a real trooper horse, super fast and will be hard to gun down Saturday.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Do not count Romans or Little Mike out... And note how Romans is putting the Year together for all of his Horses.
Steven Wells More than 1 year ago
An don't count on a price. Little Mike will be the littlest price in the race.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
No way. Little Mike will be vying for second choice with Corporate Jungle, around 3-1 to chalky 3-2 Mr. Commons. I'm going out on a limb and pick Dubai You XYZ for the upset.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
I do agree Romans seems to be doing it all right. I would love to see him at Santa Anita for BC with ALL of his big shooters. Best of luck MR. Romans, you are a class act.
Michael Bronzino More than 1 year ago
Yeah Right - the fat man still doesn't know that Dullahan is a turf horse.
Lucifer More than 1 year ago
What a grand looking horse Dullahan is. Belmont pace, no chance. Better on the grass.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
Dullahan is not a turf horse either. He was easily handled by Optimizer and Howe Great on turf, but he would turn the table on them on the Keeneland Polytrack.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
I think Romans is gonna be a busy man come the Breeders Cup races perhaps including the Turf Classic, Michael. You think he ain't thinkin'?
Joe Tartaglia More than 1 year ago
I don't blame him for taking another chance on the dirt with Dullahan, he's already loaded with Turf horses, including LM, Silver Max, Tapitsfly and even has Cozetti and Finnegan's Wake (both 3yo turfers).