Priscilla Vaccarezza’s Little Mike continued a major afternoon for trainer Dale Romans by posting a front-running 2 ½-length triumph over Slim Shadey (GB) in the 26th running of the $561,500 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (Grade I) on Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs.
Earlier on the Kentucky Derby Day card, Romans sent out Shackleford to a victory in the Churchill Downs Presented by Navistar (GII).
Ridden by Joe Bravo, Little Mike led the field of 11 through fractions of :23.78, :48.27 and 1:12.81 while being unchallenged. Little Mike, who has now won 10 of 13 turf starts, continued to the wire unopposed and covered the 1 1/8 miles on a Matt Winn Turf Course labeled as “good” in 1:48.81.
Little Mike, 5-year-old Florida-bred son of Spanish Steps out of the Wavering Monarch mare Hay Jude, added $327,242 to his bankroll and increased his career earnings to $830,412 with a record of 17-10-2-0.
Little Mike returned $26.40, $13.40 and $8.20. Slim Shadey, ridden by David Flores, returned $11.60 and $6.80 with Brilliant Speed rallying for third a half-length back under John Velazquez and paying $6.40 to show.
Doubles Partner finished a nose back in fourth and was followed in order by Data Link, Papaw Bodie, Turallure, Turbo Compressor, Get Stormy, Boxeur des Rues and Al Khali.
WOODFORD RESERVE TURF CLASSIC QUOTES
JOE BRAVO (Jockey, Little Mike, first) – “I’ve been riding for 24 years and I can’t say a horse will stick out more in my mind than Little Mike will. He’s a horse that’s overcome so much.
“I figured with the rain – the water runs down to the inside – that I thought it was better to stay off (the rail).
“Who says there wasn’t a question (about getting 1 1/8 miles)? I had a lot of questions, but Little Mike speaks.”
DALE ROMANS (Trainer, Little Mike, first) – “I thought he was the fastest horse in the race, period. I didn’t know if he could go as far as he needed to, but we weren’t going to take back. We weren’t going to give Get Stormy an easy race. We decided to take it to him.
“He had condylar fracture last year, so this is a pretty sweet victory for Little Mike. He’s a super horse and he deserves this Grade One.”
DAVID FLORES (Jockey, Slim Shadey-GB, second) – “I had an excellent trip. He horse broke just OK but I got in position early in the race and I was able to maintain my spot along the inside waiting for the last part of the race. I was just concerned about the slow pace up front since no one pushed the pace. It's very difficult to get to someone like that. My horse made a great effort and I was very pleased with the way he finished."
JOHN VELAZQUEZ (Jockey, Brilliant Speed, third) – “I got to the three-eighths pole and I’ve got the horse in front of me going in and out, in and out, so now I have to wait behind him or go around him. He kept going out so I went back to the inside, and he came back to the inside again. So now I’m steadying, waiting to see what he’s going to do. Then Javier Castellano’s and Todd Pletcher’s horse (Doubles Partner) went through so I had to follow him. It definitely cost me second money.”
TOM ALBERTRANI (Trainer, Brilliant Speed, third) – “It looked like Johnny was looking for a spot where he could save some ground and you could see where he was kind of in and out. I think he was waiting until the last minute trying to get some good, clear room. But he finished good and it was promising to see him come back first race off the layoff and run a good race here. He probably wants to go a little bit further, too.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX (Jockey, Turallure, seventh, beaten favorite) – “It went good. The last time (the Makers 46 Mark) he was a little fresh and today I wanted him to settle. He settled very nice, but he just didn’t have that kick today for some reason. I don’t know if it’s the track or the second race after a layoff. He just didn’t have the kick as usual today.”
CHARLIE LOPRESTI (Trainer, Turallure, seventh, beaten favorite) – “There was no speed up front and it just didn’t come back. It didn’t set up for us.
“He kicked on, but there wasn’t anything to really run at. I think that’s the way it unfolded. It wasn’t the kind of race that set up for us.”
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2012, and its Spring Meet is scheduled for April 28-July 1. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.