Dale Romans Eyes Second Shoemaker Mile Victory With Little Mike

Stable Notes
Posted 06.24.12 at 12:18

Dale Romans. © Benoit Photo

Dale Romans, who shipped Thorn Song to Southern California for a victory in the 2009 Shoemaker Mile, will try for his second score in the Grade I race with Priscilla Vaccarezza’s Little Mike Saturday.

“He’s already on the grounds,” Romans said by telephone. “He’s in Tom Proctor’s barn and my wife Tammy is there with him.”

A 5-year-old gelding by Spanish Steps, Little Mike has won 10 of 13 on turf and six of eight at the Shoemaker distance.

In his last start, :Little Mike, who was bred in Florida by Vaccarezza’s husband Carlo, captured the Grade I Turf Classic at Churchill Downs the race before I’ll Have Another’s Kentucky Derby win. He hasn’t been headed the first quarter mile in his last 12 two-turn races.

“He’s a speed horse,” Romans confirmed. “He’s fast and he has endurance. If anyone tries to run with him, they’ll pay the price.”

The trainer also indicated the “Win and You’re In” provision for guaranteed entry into the Breeders’ Cup (Mile Nov. 3 at Santa Anita) was a major factor in shipping the horse to Betfair Hollywood Park.

Romans has a large stable to oversee, but will make every effort to be on hand for the Shoemaker. Regular jockey Joe Bravo will ride.

KENTUCKY DERBY, PREAKNESS WINNER ENJOYING RETIREMENT

I’ll Have Another, who took his connections and the world on a whirlwind ride through victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, is transitioning well into his new life, according to trainer Doug O’Neill.

The chestnut son of Flower Alley will soon enter quarantine before he begins the next phase of his career as a stallion in Japan.

“He walks 20 to 30 minutes, two or three times a day,” the trainer continued. We get a bunch of visitors to see him. He needs an agent. He’s a star, and he knows it.”

RICHARD’S KID PROVES YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN

What a long, strange trip it’s been for Richard’s Kid.

The 7-year-old Maryland bred started his career inconspicuously enough on the East Coast, with moderate success in his home state at Laurel and Pimlico for owner Fitzhough LLC and trainer Richard Small.

Enter Bob Baffert, who purchased the Lemon Drop Kid horse on behalf of Arnold Zetcher after finishing fourth in the Grade III W.C. Schafer Stakes at Pimlico May 16, 2009.

Baffert shipped his new acquisition to Del Mar, where he finished seventh in the Eddie Read, improved to second in the Cougar Stakes before unleashing a powerful wide move to win the Grade I, $1 million Pacific Classic at 24-1.

Following a victory in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes in February, 2010, Baffert decided to showcase the runner by sending him to Meydan Race Course in the United Arab Republic for a shot at the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

“He was a victim of a slow pace in that race,” Baffert recalled. “Garrett Gomez was on him and they finally came running at the end. He was beaten only two or three lengths.”

When he returned to California, it took Richard’s Kid a couple of races to get his bearings, but when the Pacific Classic rolled around, he unleashed his trademark overland rally and won the race for a second consecutive year. He won the Goodwood Stakes, another Grade I, in his next start and was sold shortly thereafter to Zabeel Racing International Corporation, who shipped him to Dubai and turned him over to new trainer Satish Seemar.

When he resurfaced in March, 2011, Richard’s Kid finished 10th in the Grade II Al Maktoum Challenge, then fared even worse when 12th in his second attempt at the Dubai World Cup. He was put on the shelf for another year and when he returned, didn’t make a dent in three more starts at Meydan.

At that point, his owners decided to go back to square one. Enter Baffert – again.

Richard’s Kid returned to familiar surroundings at the Baffert barn. Three months later, he surfaced in the Prove It Stakes, pulverizing his rivals by seven lengths in the 1 3/8 mile race over the Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Baffert downplayed the opposition that day but said Richard’s Kid “has always been a good horse” and was just “overclassed” in Dubai.

The trainer already holds a strong hand for the Hollywood Gold Cup with Californian winner Game On Dude and Prayer for Relief. Baffert won’t tip his hand whether Richard’s Kid will join his stablemates in the Grade I, but you know in the back of his mind, he has to be thinking of a third Pacific Classic victory.

In any event, the 10-time winner of $1.8 million is happy to be home.

MULHALL EXPLAINS STORY BEHIND HORSESANDDIVORCES

When a filly called Horsesanddivorces appears, you know there has to be a story behind the name.

Trainer Kristin Mulhall provided the background. “I saw her at the (Barretts Mixed) sale last year,’’ she said. “I thought she was a beautiful filly and when she went for only $2,500, I bought her. I have a lot of girlfriends who are always getting involved rescuing horses and turning them into show horses. It takes up a lot of their time and I know their husbands are always getting mad, so I thought Horsesanddivorces would be a cute name.”

Turns out, there was another horse named Horsesanddivorces, a male foaled in 2000. It would be interesting to find out what the opposite sex perspective on the name would be.

CLOSING STRIDES —A memorial service for former jockey Alex Maese, who died June 14th at 83, will be held July 1st in the Chandelier Room in the Turf Club at Santa Anita…….Potesta and Eden’s Moon, who staged a thrilling stretch battle in Saturday’s Hollywood Oaks, both returned well, according to their respective assistant trainers, Phil D’Amato (Mike Mitchell) and Mike Marlow (Bob Baffert) ……..Though Eden’s Moon just missed in the Oaks, Baffert doubled with Distracting and Da Ruler, extending his lead in the trainer standings to 25-16 over John Sadler. Rafael Bejarano, who turned 30 Saturday, was aboard Distracting for his 50th victory of the Spring/Summer meeting, 17 more than Joe Talamo. Bejarano’s streak of consecutive days with at least one winner has reached 17.……. John Shirreffs confirmed Mr. Commons as a starter in the Shoemaker Mile. The trainer was also thrilled with the debut second of Stanwyck, a half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo and Grade I winner Tiago. The Empire Maker filly was 16 lengths back at the half mile and was beaten less than five lengths by Distracting……. Dan Ward, assistant trainer to Jerry Hollendorfer, reported Sunday that Rousing Sermon will start in next Saturday’s Grade II $150,000 guaranteed Swaps Stakes and probably will be ridden by Mike Smith. Hollendorfer will also be represented by Affirmed Stakes winner Nonios in the 1 1-8 mile Cushion Track test…… Juan Hernandez, who finished fourth behind Russell Baze with 80 wins at the recently concluded Golden Gate Fields meet, has relocated to Southern California. The Mexico City-born rider received many offers from local agents, but decided to stick with his Bay Area representative, Ramon Silva.

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