Vaccarezza Targeting Arlington Million for Little Mike and Rooting for 'Chrome'
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (G2) and Hutcheson Stakes (G3) winner Wildcat Red was sent to the Gulfstream Park track Friday morning for his first workout since a troubled 18th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 3.
The 3-year-old son of D’wildcat breezed four furlongs in 47.84 seconds under a motionless Edgard Zayas.
“He worked great and he did it easy. He loves this racetrack,” said trainer Jose Garoffalo, whose colt has finished no worse than second in seven starts at Gulfstream. “It was exactly what I was looking for. He did it very easy and the gallop-out was very good.”
Garoffalo expressed confidence that Wildcat Red has emerged from the Derby in good order.
“He’s still the same horse after the Derby,” he said. “The race didn’t affect him. I spoiled him a little bit, so he’s a little heavy. That’s normal, because he was off a couple weeks and didn’t do too much.”
The Florida-bred colt, who prepped for the Derby with a close second-place finish behind Constitution in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby on March 29, will be pointed toward the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 27th.
“I’m planning to run him here at the end of the month. They have a race at a mile and a sixteenth. That’s the plan,” said Garoffalo, referring to the $75,000 Quality Road on June 28. “I want to use that race as a prep for the Haskell.”
Wildcat Red, a horse with a high turn of speed, was never able to get into the race in the Derby, in which his trip earned the comment, “bobble, bumped, steady, shuffled,” in the Equibase chart.
“It was disappointing in the beginning because you have high expectations for the horse,” Garoffalo said. “But at the same time, I’ve accepted it because the horse came back in good shape. For a horseman, all that matters is the health of the horse.”
Friday morning’s workout marked the first time jockey Edgard Zayas was reunited with Wildcat Red since Nov. 9, when they finished first in the $125,000 Juvenile Sprint Preview at Gulfstream, only to be disqualified and placed second. Zayas, who had previously ridden Wildcat Red to victory in his first two career starts, was impressed with the workout.
“I was working him when he was a 2-year-old before he ran, and this was one of his best works. He did it easy,” Zayas said.
Vaccarezza Targeting Arlington Million for Little Mike
Trainer Carlo Vaccarezza had intended on running Little Mike in Saturday’s $1 million Manhattan (G1) at Belmont Park, but he was unable to transport his 7-year-old turf star to New York in a timely manner due to a procedural delay. The Arlington Million (G1) at Arlington Park on Aug. 16 has now become the primary goal for the popular multiple Grade 1 stakes winner.
“I’ll take my time and wait for the Arlington Million. We’ll back off his training a little bit because he’s not a horse that needs to be trained hard. He keeps himself really fit. He’s a 7-year-old so we have to treat him with a lot of TLC,” Vaccarezza said.
“We’ll probably run him here. He likes it here. It’s his home. He’s happy here. He enjoys Florida and he enjoys Gulfstream Park.”
Little Mike, who captured the 2012 Arlington Million on his way to capturing the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf, made his 2014 debut at Gulfstream on May 17, when he posted a front-running score in the $75,000 Flying Pigeon Stakes
“He learned a lot from that race. He broke really well; he was in front a couple lengths, then he sustained some pressure. Turning for home, he felt the pressure and he opened up by five,” Vaccarezza said. “So, overall, it was a good race, a great experience for him. Coming back from five, six months off, I’m very proud of him.”
Although Little Mike won’t be running in the Manhattan, his trainer will still have a rooting interest at Belmont Park Saturday in California Chrome, who will seek to become the first horse to pull off a sweep the Triple Crown in 36 years in the Belmont Stakes. Vaccarezza has a special appreciation for the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner’s humble beginnings.
“You see what happened with California Chrome; he’s out of an $8000 mare and by a stallion with a $2000 stud fee,” he said. “This horse (Little Mike) is out of a giveaway mare, by a horse with a $500 stud fee. Stories like these are good for the sport. That’s why I’m rooting so hard for California Chrome to win.”