Little Mike targets United Nations

Updated: June 9, 2013, 4:00 PM ET
By Jim Freer | Bloodhorse



Little Mike is likely to start in the United Nations Stakes July 6, the first of a four-race series picked by breeder and co-owner Carlo Vacarezza that would end with a defense of his 2012 Breeders' Cup Turf title.

The $500,000 United Nations, over 1 3/8 miles on grass, is at Monmouth Park.

The Breeders' Cup Turf, contested at 1 ½ miles, will return Nov. 2 to Santa Anita Park, where Little Mike nearly set a course record in winning the race last year.

In between, Vaccarezza and trainer Dale Romans plan to run the 6-year-old gelding in the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million Aug. 17 at Arlington Park and in the Joe Hirsch Turf Invitational Sept. 28 at Belmont Park.

Last year, Little Mike won the Arlington Million and the Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs. He finished second to Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Eclipse Award voting for champion male turf horse.

Vaccarezza and his wife Priscilla own the Florida-bred Little Mike, a son of Spanish Steps who is out of the Wavering Monarch mare Hay Jude.

Little Mike has not raced since March 30 when he finished 11th in the Dubai Duty Free. He was leading until the final turn in the race at Meydan Race Course in Dubai.

"He turned an ankle, and it swelled up like a watermelon," Vaccarezza said June 7. "We thought it might be broken, but fortunately it turned out to be just a bad sprain."

After returning to the United States, Little Mike spent several weeks rehabilitating and resting at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky. The bay is now back in Romans' barn at Churchill Downs. He has not posted a timed workout since his return.

Little Mike has won 12 of 23 starts and has earned $3,074,412.

The Vaccarezzas named the horse after their son Michael.

This year, they have embarked on a new enterprise, offering prospective Thoroughbred owners a chance to enter the sport with relatively small investments in 2-year-olds whose names all start with Little.

Carlo Vaccarezza, the 2012 Eclipse Award winner Romans, and John Williams are the partners in Little Dreams Racing. Williams has owned several horses in partnerships with Vaccarezza.

Little Dreams Racing, a Limited Liability Corp., this year bought 11 2-year-olds that Romans is training.

Investors can purchase shares as small as 1% percent in any Little Dreams horse. For example if Romans and Vaccarezza buy a horse at a sale for $100,000 an investor can make an initial investment as small as $1,000 to become a minority owner.

The managing partners will keep at least a 20% stake in each horse.

"We want to bring new owners into racing, a guy who might have $50,000 and wants a stake in a couple of quality horses," Vaccarezza said.

"You are always proud when you can say 'my horse is running today,'" he said, "People aren't going to ask how big a share you own."

Shares are still available in some of the Little Dreams horses, who are named for family and friends of the Vaccarezzas, Romans, and Williams.

The Little Dreams Racing Web site http://littledreamsracing.com/ is under construction. Information can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LittleDreamsRacing.

Many of this year's Little Dreams 2-year-olds will begin racing this summer, Vaccarezza said. Their debuts will come at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course, and Gulfstream Park, he said.

Gulfstream, in Hallandale Beach, Fla., will begin its first summer meet June 25. It will also have racing July 1 and July 4.

Otherwise, Gulfstream plans to race on Saturdays and Sundays from July 6 through Nov. 23. It will hold its traditional meet, racing Wednesdays through Sundays, from Nov. 30 until April 12, 2014.

Gulfstream and Calder Casino & Race Course, in Miami Gardens, Fla., are scheduled to race head-to-head on Saturdays and Sundays from July 6 through June 2014.

Officials of the two Miami-area tracks are continuing to talk about possible ways to end their race dates dispute and call off plans for head-to-head racing.

Gulfstream and its parent The Stronach Group are offering Calder and its parent Churchill Downs Inc, financial incentives to move some race dates from Calder to Gulfstream.