Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Little Mike has not looked the same this year as he
did during his championship quality 2012 season. He completely floundered in
Dubai and still could not find the winner’s circle once he returned to the
United States following his disappointing trip to the Middle East. In fact, in
his four starts this year, he never even hit the board. But when it mattered
most, Little Mike found his way back to the winner’s circle in a most dramatic
today’s Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes, all eyes were on the coupled Ramsey entry,
particularly the quickly rising Big Blue Kitten. With the Ramsey rabbit Joes
Blazing Aaron, speedy King Kreesa, and Little Mike all in the race, the race
was supposed to set up so that the other two Ramsey horses would benefit from a
lively pace. As it turned out, the pace went according to plan, but it was at
the wire where things deviated from the script.
Joes Blazing Aaron went straight to the lead and set a fairly quick pace for
the mile and a half affair. King Kreesa was also forwardly placed early on, as
was Imagining. It was Little Mike who broke script, settling just off the
leaders rather than competing for the early lead. Relaxed early on and content
to let others do the dirty work, rather than fade from contention as he did in
this race last year, Little Mike
struck the lead in the turn. He went clear early in the stretch, but the
quickly closing Ramsey duo of Real Solution and Big Blue Kitten were not going
to let him win easily.
together from the back of the field, Real Solution took the overland route
while Big Blue Kitten threaded his way through traffic on the inside. Real Solution got to Little Mike first
on the outside, but the defending Breeders’ Cup champion turned him away. On
the inside, Big Blue Kitten looked
to be finishing best of all having finally gotten through on the rail, but
Little Mike managed to get his nose on the wire first despite Big Blue Kitten
passing him in the next stride.
by bettors in favor of the formidable Ramsey entries, Little Mike paid
$16.80/$5.90/$4.70 and completed the mile and half in 2.25 flat. Big Blue
Kitten finished just a nose behind Little Mike followed by stablemate Real
Solution. Slumber, Twilight Eclipse, Imagining, King Kreesa, Nutello, and Joes
Blazing Aaron rounded out the order of finish.
Jockey Mike Smith’s ability to get Little Mike
to relax during the early stages of the race earned the defending champ a fees
paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf
and the opportunity to defend his title. He is the last contender to earn a
fees paid berth as the Joe Hirsch was the last “Win and You’re In” event for
the Turf. If all goes according to plan, he will again face Real Solution and
Big Blue Kitten at Santa Anita along with Ordak Dan, Gold Ship, Novellist, The
Fugue, and Vagabond Shoes.