Multiple grade I winner Little Mike was named the Florida Thoroughbred industry's horse of the year for 2012.
The homebred gelding bred by Carlo Vaccarezza and who races in the name of Vaccarezza's wife, Priscilla, had a phenomenal year by any state's standards. He started in seven stakes and won four, including three grade I stakes—the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes, the Arlington Million Stakes, and the Breeders' Cup Turf. His earnings for the year totalled $2,668,742.
For his feats, Little Mike was also named the state's champion older male and champion turf male. The gelding has been trained by Dale Romans since early 2011.
A son of Spanish Steps, Little Mike is the second stakes winner produced by his dam, Hay Jude. The daughter of Wavering Monarch also produced Little Nick (by Tiger Ridge), who won three stakes and placed in the grade III Miami Mile Handicap.
Hay Jude got her own recognition by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association, who named her Florida's leading broodmare for 2012. Priscilla Vaccarezza was honored as well as the leading owner by Florida-bred earnings.
The title of leading stallion went to Bridlewood Farm's Put It Back, who was also named the state's leading juvenile sire.
The son of Honour and Glory had more than $4.55 million in total progeny earnings. His chief earner was Yara, who won the grade II Davona Dales Stakes. Overall, Put It Back had 11 stakes winners and five graded stakes winners for the year.
Other awards included the Needles Award, given the breeders who have small operations and have made a big contribution to the industry. The 2012 honorees were John and Carol Rio, who bred Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) runner-up Mucho Macho Man .
Thoroughstock received the Joe O'Farrell Memorial Award as the original consignor of the year's best Florida-bred racehorse. Thoroughstock sold Flat Out , winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), as a weanling for $11,000 in the 2006 Ocala Breeders' Sales January mixed sale.
The leading breeder of the year for the third consecutive year was J. Michael O'Farrell, president of Ocala Stud and the son of Joe O'Farrell.
Florida's complete list of champions and award winners are as follows:
2-year-old Filly: Verso a Verso
2-year-old Colt/Gelding: Merit Man
3-year-old Filly: Eden's Moon
3-year-old Colt/Gelding: Fort Loudon
Older Female Sprinter: Musical Romance
Florida Horse of the Year, Older Male, and Male Turf Horse: Little Mike
Male Sprinter: Coil
Female Turf Horse: Bay to Bay
2012 Florida Stallion Of The Year, 2012 Leading Florida Juvenile Sire: Put It Back
2012 Leading Florida Freshman Sire: Circular Quay
2012 Needles Award: John and Carole Rio
2012 Joe O'Farrell Memorial Award: Consignor—Thoroughstock, agent. Horse—Flat Out
2012 Leading Florida Trainer of Florida Breds By Earnings: William Kaplan
2012 Leading Florida Trainer of Florida Breds By Stakes Wins: Stanley Gold
2012 Leading Florida Trainers of Florida Breds By Races Won (tied.): Kathleen O'Connell, Kirk Ziadie
2012 Leading Owner By Florida-Bred Earnings: Priscilla Vaccarezza
2012 Leading Florida Broodmare: Hay Jude
2012 Florida Breeder Of The Year: Ocala Stud