Little Mike Ready For Return To Action Thursday
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Little Mike really took to the Gulfstream Park turf course last season while scoring three-graded stakes victories. Earlier in the week, the 4-year-old gelding took to the infield course again, skipping five furlongs over the grass in 58.95 seconds.
The Dale Romans-trained Florida-bred’s clocking was the fastest of six recorded at the distance on turf, serving as final preparation for his return to racing action in Thursday’s seventh race at Gulfstream.
“He looked like he worked well. It looked like he did it the right way,” said Romans, whose gelding was ridden by Joe Bravo. “It looked like Joe had plenty of horse, and he galloped out strong/”
Little Mike became a fan favorite during the 2011 meeting, during which he captured the Fort Lauderdale (G3), the Canadian Turf (G3) and the Appleton (G3).
“He’ll have the same program as last (season),” Romans said. “That worked out well.”
The Fort Lauderdale will be run on Jan. 14. The Florida Sunshine Millions Turf on Jan. 28 was also mentioned as a possibility for Little Mike’s next start.
In Thursday’s return, a $64,000 optional claiming allowance at one mile on turf, Little Mike is expected to be challenged by seven rivals, including graded stakes winners Yankee Fourtune and Telling.
“We’ll study it,” Romans said. “We’ve got a few days to worry bout it, but unless Joe tells us something different, we’re a go.”
Bravo was suitably impressed with Little Mike’s preparation for Thursday’s start.
“It was almost like déjà vu of last year,” Bravo said. “He was so happy. He worked great. He’s a happy horse. I’ll tell you what; he really opened my eyes as to how good of a horse he was last year.”
Little Mike, named after the 9-year-old son of owners Priscilla and Carlo Vaccarezza, has been idle since capturing the Appleton in his usual front-running style on April 3 due to a minor injury.
“I think the break did him some good. It looks like he’s grown up and filled in a little bit,” Romans said. “He’s ready for a good campaign.”