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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Little Mike and Dullahan Represent America

Nov. 03, 2012 - Arcadia, California, U.S - Little Mike (FL)ridden by Ramon A. Dominguez and trained by (Trainer), wins the Breeders' Cup Turf Dale Romans at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA.
Dale Romans has been down this road before. Back in 2005, he won the Dubai World Cup with the excellent Roses In May. Three years later, he had decidedly different luck with Massive Drama in the UAE Derby. In 2013, the newly minted Eclipse Award trainer is doing things a little differently in what will be his third trip over, and in Little Mike and Dullahan he has two very capable horses to give him his second victory in the world’s richest race. It will be first things first, though, as both horses will get a first taste of racing in Dubai on Super Saturday.

Besides bringing two to the party, the extra time over there is the major thing Romans will be doing differently this time around. Both charges will have plenty of time to acclimate, as well as grab a prep race to get ready for World Cup night on March 30. While neither horse has run since the Breeders’ Cup Turf, they will be looking to achieve different goals on Saturday.

Dullahan is known as a synthetic specialist, with three grade 1 victories already over the surface, he will be mainly looking for a solid prep to prepare him for the big test three weeks later. Little Mike, on the other hand, will not only be running in the bigger race on Saturday, but he will need to prove himself over Meydan’s Tapeta main track. 

Despite his credentials here in America, and on the grass, the Breeders’ Cup champion is not yet invited to the World Cup. So not only will Romans need to be happy with his run over the new surface in Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge, but he will need to run well enough to earn an invite. The $400,000, Group 1 affair goes as Saturday’s featured race, and the six-year old American gelding figures to have his hands full with the likes of the streaking Hunter’s Light. A winner of four of his last five, and half of his 16 lifetime races, the Godolphin star is coming off a big win last month at Meydan and figures to be the one to beat in the 1 ¼ mile World Cup prep. 

While Little Mike has worked well on synthetics in the past, and has been reportedly happy over it this week under regular exercise rider, Tammy Fox, the surface remains a big question mark under the fire of world-class competition. The race will also include a few other horses familiar to U.S. racefans, in Trailblazer and Treasure Beach. While the final round of the Maktoum Challenge is designed as a proving ground for Little Mike, the trip to the Middle East would be far from a bust if he proves not as good away from the turf. The $10 million World Cup is option one, but with the rich Dubai Sheema Classic, at the same 1 1/2 mile trip that he found success in the Breeders' Cup Turf, being on the same card, Little Mike should have a real chance for success on the world’s richest race card in three weeks. 

Donegal Racing’s Dullahan, meanwhile, would seem to have been born for the World Cup. His best race came on a synthetic surface at the same 1 ¼ mile distance, when he ran right by Game On Dude in last summer’s Pacific Classic. Doing the same thing to Hansen in the Blue Grass over Keeneland’s Polytrack adds proof to the son of Even the Score’s affinity for synthetics. On Saturday, Dullahan might be running at a distance (one mile) shorter than his best, but it is hoped that a strong finish in the Burj Nahaar will set him up perfectly for the ten furlongs of the World Cup. He also enters the race drawing rave reviews from his trainer who believes, the four-year-old has never been better physically. Chief among his opponents on Saturday will be African Story, who happens to be the defending champion of the rich Godolphin Mile of the World Cup card, but has been away from the races for a full ten months.

Both Little Mike and Dullahan will have a new rider Sarturday in Kieren Fallon, who has ridden for Romans in the past. The experienced Irish jockey figures to help ease any culture shock for the pair, as he has been riding in Dubai for the entire Carnival.  

We will know more about Little Mike and Dullahan’s chances on World Cup night by how good they look on Saturday, but make no mistake; these races are only a means to an end. That end coming on March 30. Things will only get tougher on that night, but as two of the best horses in America, they are expected to represent us well, and their excellent trainer figures to have them very ready for their second of two races in Dubai.

 

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Older Comments about Little Mike and Dullahan Represent America...

I wouldn't write off Dullahan. I think it will be an upset in the DWC. I wouldn't back Hunter's Light. The DWC is not won by favorites. Any European horse is dangerous - especially those who have run in Australia.
Thank you Lisa111. That is quite a compliment. I appreciate it very much.
Buckpasser, I just wanted to tell you that I always look for your posts. I really enjoy all of your horse racing knowledge and history. I appreciate all of your insight very much.
Thanks Brian. Thought so. Should improve off this effort. LM is a nice guy and should do better in his next start.
I predicted Hunter's Light would take a world of beating in the AMC Rd. 3. He was drawn perfectly and got a great trip throughout. The eye catcher once again, IMO, was Kassiano. Breaking from the widest gate, PP #13, and he still manages to pass all but the winner to grab 2nd. At this point you have to think Hunter's Light & Kassiano both as legitimate threats to win this year's Dubai World Cup.
If you watch the replay, LM had a few awkward moments when it looked like Kieran lost stirrups?
if Igugu get the lead not good
Yes, Buckpasser ... first start since the BC.
Horses on the lead need to slow it down to get away with it...the ride was competent, but the performance below par
The pace was pitiful and he couldn't keep up with it past the 3/4's...THAT is doing well? man we have a different defintion of doing well, Could not have saved more ground and had NOTHING late. That is Well?
Agreed Brian. Senior moment: is this LM's first start back. Can't remember if so.
For the record, I thought Little Mike ran well today, but I believe he has a better chance on turf on World Cup night.
you can't stay out in front of European closers on their own course now that the surface favors them
Jamr is my win pick
Dullahan 11th
Like the "best turned out" awards given out in Dubai.
Keiron the felon...what a crook and got away with it. Ever see the race he fixed. On the lead by about 10 just cantering and the field is gaining late. he looks back and does NOTHING to urge his horse and they get to him late while he just sat there.
Thanks bill.
Little Mike was my pick in the BCT. He is not my pick in Dubai. I hope he wins, but that's about it.
little mike people is betting it all

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.