Met Mile winner Mitole, now at Saratoga, gets race assignment

July 12, 2019 08:58am

Bill Heiligbrodt, who campaigns Mitole with his wife, Corinne, doesn’t believe the prolific last out winner of the Met Mile (G1) has any sort of distance limitations. But at least this season, the 4-year-old son of Eskendereya doesn’t appear poised to test them.

Saratoga’s Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap — which means a cut back to 3/4 of a mile — could be next on the colt’s agenda when it renews July 27.

“It’s like everything,” Heiligbrodt said. “I think he’s going to point toward that Vanderbilt, because we need to race to keep him on a straight line. But that’s going to be subject to everything being perfect.”

Since the June 8 Met Mile, in which Mitole defeated McKinzie and Thunder Snow, among other proven older horses, the Steve Asmussen trainee has submitted two works at Saratoga, going five furlongs Sunday 1:01.85 over the Oklahoma Training Track.

Mitole has won seven straight races dating back to March of 2018 but missed the second half of his 3-year-old season due to a splint bone issue.

“There’s reasons why I’ve kept him short,” Heiligbrodt said. “I didn’t want to stress him. It’s pretty well-known — when horses are really, really fast, they’re a little bit tough on themselves. I’m just being careful, but you saw what he ran in the Met Mile. He ran a tick off the track record.

“Can he run another 220 yards? It looked to me like he could.”

Mitole returned March 2 with a facile allowance victory at Oaklawn Park, then defeated Arkansas legend Whitmore in the track’s Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3). Since then, he has won back-to-back Grade 1 races, following the Churchill Downs Stakes (G1) on Derby day with the Met Mile.

A Belmont Stakes undercard race, the Met Mile may have packed in more star power than the Triple Crown event with Promises Fulfilled, Firenze Fire, Pavel and Coal Front in the field. Both Promises Fulfilled and Prince Lucky, who was last of nine, have already come back to win stakes of their own.

While the Met Mile awarded connections a “Win and You’re In” spot to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, Heiligbrodt said the Sprint will also be considered.

Beyond that, Heiligbrodt will weigh a desire to send Mitole longer with the economics of a stallion career, for which there’s been understandable interest already from farms.

“He’s a valuable horse,” Heiligbrodt said. “The question is, ‘What do you do?’ The horse, to me, has run against everybody who’s run at him…I don’t have a lot to prove. He’s a pretty honest horse.

“It wasn’t like he got off light. I think everyone in the nation ran at him (in the Met Mile) — at least that’s what people tell me.”

The Heiligbrodts also campaign Grade 1-winning filly Mia Mischief, a sprinter who Bill Heiligbrodt says will remain around one turn. The daughter of Into Mischief, also trained by Asmussen and co-owned by Heider Family Stables and Madaket Stables, defeated 3-year-old star Covfefe in her last start, taking Churchill Downs’ Roxelana. Two back, Mia Mischief won the Humana Distaff (G1).

“When you win two Grade 1s on Derby day, they have to be pretty good horses,” he said of Mitole and Mia Mischief. Regarding the latter, he added, “She’s as fast, too, as anything I’ve had.”

Mia Mischief submitted her first Saratoga breeze on Sunday, going a half mile in 51.53 seconds on the Oklahoma. She could target the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina on Aug. 24, which is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.


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