Little Mike fifth in comeback
Making a return from a layoff of more than two years, multiple Grade 1-stakes winner Little Mike set the pace to the far turn before tiring to fifth (pictured on rail at far right) in Sunday’s 7TH race at Gulfstream Park.
“I think the 26 months caught up with him,” said Carlo Vaccarezza, who trains the son of Spanish Steps for his wife, Priscilla. “He ran good but got tired. We’ll see how he comes out of the race and see what he can do next time.”
The 9-year-old gelding, who was sidelined by tendonitis and an issue with a suspensory ligament that didn’t require surgery, was pressed early by Rizwan, a stakes winner making his return from a five-month layoff, along the front stretch and around the first turn, Little Mike set fractions of :23.80 and :47.52 while showing the way to his five rivals in the 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance on turf.
Gentlmens Agrement made a sweeping move to the lead on the far turn with Rizwan moving to his inside, as the even-money favorite weakened. Ridden by Luca Panici, Gentlmens Agrement ($7) went on to register a length-length victory over Rizwan in 1:41.13. Rizwan was a neck clear of third-place finisher Copingaway. Little Mike finished another four lengths back under no late pressure from jockey Elvis Trujillo.
“He ran good. He was off for two years, but he tried and ran good,” Trujillo said.
Little Mike, who has won five stakes over the Gulfstream turf, became a fan favorite while outrunning his nondescript pedigree to capture the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), Arlington Million (G1) and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) as well as the 2013 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1).
The Florida-bred gelding distinguished himself as an emerging a turf star at Gulfstream in 2011, when he won three graded stakes, including the Ft. Lauderdale (G3), Canadian Turf (G3) and the Appleton (G3) before launching his stellar 2012 campaign with a triumph in the Florida Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream.
Photo courtesy Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photography.