After capturing three grade I victories on the turf last year, capped by a win in the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park, Little Mike will make his first United States start of the 2013 season in the United Nations Stakes (gr. IT) July 6 at Monmouth Park.
A homebred for Carlo and Priscilla Vaccarezza, Little Mike has registered four workouts since June 11 at Churchill Downs for trainer Dale Romans as he prepares for his first start since a pair of off-the-board finishes in stakes in March in Dubai. Little Mike's other grade I stakes scores last year came in the Arlington Million and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.
"We just had to let him freshen up and get back on his feet after Dubai," said Romans. "He feels ready to go now. He trained good for the last month or so. He's doing everything right."
A 6-year-old Spanish Steps gelding, Florida-bred Little Mike has earned $3,074,412 in five seasons of racing, registering a record of 12-2-1 from 23 starts. On Saturday, Joel Rosario will take over for the retired Ramon Dominguez aboard Little Mike, who is perfect in two starts on the Monmouth turf.
"His success at Monmouth definitely had something to do with it," Romans said.
Awaiting Little Mike and Rosario in the $500,000 turf race at 11 furlongs will be 2011 United Nations winner Teaks North, a 6-year-old Northern Afleet gelding. Resolute Group Stables' Teaks North enters the United Nations off a clear victory in the Good Reward Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile turf race May 15 at Belmont Park.
A millionaire who has won seven of his 19 turf tries, Teaks North will be reunited with jockey Eddie Castro, who was aboard for their 2011 U.N. victory. Teaks North is scheduled to be offered at the inaugural Fasig-Tipton summer sale of selected horses of racing age July 15 in Lexington.
Saturday's entries also include Skyring, who enters off a win in the Dixie Stakes (gr. IIT) at Pimlico Race Course; and grade II winner Big Blue Kitten, who enters off a runner-up finish in the June 9 Monmouth Stakes (gr. IIT). Rounding out the field are grade II winner Willcox Inn, and stakes winners Russian Greek and Harrods Creek, as well as Hangover Kid, a recent allowance winner at Belmont Park.
$500,000 United Nations Stakes (gr. I, race 11, approximate post time 6 p.m.) 3YO & Up, 1 3/8 miles, turf
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Willcox Inn (KY), J. Graham, 118, M. Stidham
2. Big Blue Kitten (KY), J. Bravo, 118, C. Brown
3. Russian Greek (KY), R. Barber, 118, G. Dorochenko
4. Teaks North (FL), E. Castro, 118, M. Nevin
5. Skyring (KY), G. Stevens, 120, D. Lukas
6. Harrods Creek (KY), E. Trujillo, 118, W. Mott
7. Little Mike (FL), J. Rosario, 123, D. Romans
8. Hangover Kid (NY) Gabriel Saez, 118, J. Servis