By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – A return to Grade 3 company was all it took for Little Mike to find the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle for the second time this year, resulting in a strong front-running victory in Sunday’s $150,000 Canadian Turf.
The 4-year-old gelding, who captured the Ft. Lauderdale (G3) on Jan. 9 with a front-running performance, found the 10-horse field in the Canadian a whole lot more accommodating than his rivals in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) on Feb. 5.
Sent right to the lead by Joe Bravo, Little Mike ($12.80) set a strong pace before sprinting clear through the stretch to prevail by 1-1/2.lengths.
“I thought they were going awfully fast early, but the field was bunched, so they were all going pretty fast,” said Dale Romans, who took over the training of the son of Spanish Steps following his Ft. Lauderdale score. “Then, when he opened up at the top of the stretch, I knew he would go on.”
Little Mike, who held on by just a nose in the Fort Lauderdale, was never threatened in the stretch despite setting fractions of :22 3/5, :45 2/5 and 1:08 3/5 for the first six furlongs of the mile turf stakes before positing a final running time of 1:32 1/5. Society’s Chairman came from off the pace under Jose Lezcano to finish second, 2-3/4 lengths quarters of a length ahead of a deep-closing Yankee Fourtune, the 5-2 favorite ridden by Victor Santiago.
“As long as he’s happy and flipping his ears around, how fast he’s going doesn’t really matter,” Bravo said. “Time only matters when you’re in jail.”
Bravo has been aboard Little Mike for all six of his career victories from 12 starts.
Priscilla Vaccarezza’s homebred colt earned $90,000 for his Canadian Turf triumph, which boosted his career earnings to $305,970.
We’ll discuss options, maybe Keeneland,” said Romans, referring to the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) on April 15. “There are a lot of good races at a mile, but I think he’ll go farther if we ask him.”
Rainbow 6 Carryover Grows
The 10-cent Rainbow 6 was not solved Sunday, when no tickets sold included all six winners of the final six races. The Rainbow 6 Jackpot, which can only be hit when there’s only a single ticket with all six winners is sold, will include a $89,976 carryover for Wednesday’s card.
The 50-cent Pick 5 was hit Sunday, resulting in a payoff of $41,266.80 for tickets with all of the winners from the final five races on the card.