Little Mike, bred and trained by Carlo Vaccarezza for his wife Priscilla, finished fifth on Sunday in an allowance optional claiming event at Gulfstream Park. The 9-year-old Breeders' Cup and Arlington Million winner was making his first start since May of 2014.
Little Mike broke well enough from the gate under Elvis Trujillo, but had to be hustled a bit to maintain his inside position when Rizwan broke sharper along his outside. Trujillo did not allow the son of Spanish Steps to waver long behind Rizwan, and around the first turn Little Mike had gained a three-quarter length advantage. He clocked a first quarter in :23.80 and a half mile in :47.52 in the 1 1/16 mile event on the firm turf, but was headed by both Gentlemens Agreement and Coping Away rounding the far turn.
Unable to regain his lost advantage, Little Mike appeared to lose heart down the stretch, fading to finish fifth in the field of six. Gentlemens Agreement stormed home the victor with Rizwan re-rallying for second in a final time of 1:41.13.
“I think the 26 months caught up with him,” said Vaccarezza. “He ran good but got tired. We'll see how he comes out of the race and see what he can do next time.”
“He ran good. He was off for two years, but he tried and ran good,” Trujillo said.
Prior to today's start, Little Mike held a record of 14 wins from 29 starts with earnings of $3,543,012.
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