04/03/2011 5:32PM

Little Mike takes third graded stakes of Gulfstream meet in Appleton

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Adam Coglianese
Little Mike could be headed to the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs after winning Sunday's Appleton.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla - Little Mike ran them off their feet again Sunday at Gulfstream Park, leading throughout to add the Grade 3 Appleton to his previous victories here this season in the Grade 3 Ft. Lauderdale and Canadian Turf stakes.

Little Mike, who was bred by Carlo Vaccarezza and is owned by Priscilla Vaccarezza, was transferred to trainer Dale Romans barn just days after winning the Ft. Lauderdale for former trainer Allen Iwinski on Jan. 9. He suffered his only setback of the meeting when unsuccessful trying to stretch his speed nine furlongs in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. 

As was the case five weeks earlier in the one-mile Canadian, Little Mike set a fast pace after breaking well from the rail in the Appleton, posting fractions  of 23.25 seconds, 46.57 and 1:09.06 for the opening six furlongs while stalked during the early stages by several rivals. But as also was the case in his last start, Little Mike surged away from his early pursuers once settling into the stretch, opening a commanding advantage leaving the eighth pole before outlasting the late-running Riviera Cocktail by one length. Asphalt finished another neck back in third.

Little Mike completed a mile over a firm course in 1:32.87 and returned $4.20.

“I’ve never seen him get tired,” said Romans. “He goes fast and just keeps on going. He ran a super race today. He had every right to back up with those fractions today. He came to me in great shape and it’s pretty special for him to win three graded stakes at the meet.”

Romans said he’s considering giving Little Mike another chance to stay nine furlongs in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs on May 7.

“That’s why we left him here for this race because the timing is good to get him to the Woodford,” said Romans. “He was only beaten two lengths with top horses when he ran in the Grade 1 here earlier this winter and I think he deserves another chance to try it again.”