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Blog - GAMBLING

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens has had major success in Dubai. (Photo courtesy of NYRA)

In this blog last November, after another masterpiece at disregarded odds, it was suggested that Little Mike’s natural and even distribution of speed could yield America’s first turf win at the Dubai World Cup meeting.

Despite years of sending horses for all races at the world’s single richest day of racing, no American has ever gotten home first on grass in Dubai.The Ken McPeek-trainee Hard Buck was second in the 2004 Dubai Sheema Classic and Richard Mandella’s The Tin Man held the same position in the 2006 Dubai Duty Free, the best results in what is otherwise a record of futility. For as successful as U.S. horses were on dirt at the old Nad Al Sheba course, they’ve often run the opposite on grass both at the old track and the newer behemoth at Meydan.

In 2013, Little Mike will have a better chance than most Americans to take their chance on the lawn in Dubai, and he’ll be partnered with Hall of Fame comebacker Gary Stevens. The 50-year-old jockey also will have a mount in the Dubai World Cup aboard Pacific Classic Stakes winner Dullahan and might even collect another mount before final entries are declared on Monday.

“I’m pretty well loaded,” Stevens said, “and I didn’t expect it. I hoped for it; I dreamed about it. I probably started dreaming about it in October, although my wife says I started dreaming about the day I first retired.”

Stevens has had plenty of experience in Dubai, winning three of four races in an international jockey challenge run in 1993, the first year of truly organized racing in the United Arab Emirates.

“I’d say that put me on the map over there,” he said.

“They had old buildings, an airport with one runway, and a lot of sand. It was exactly what I imagined it would be, but it’s different now.”

Stevens finished second in the inaugural Dubai World Cup (1996) with Soul of the Matter and won the race in 1998 with Silver Charm. He holds the highest winning percentage at the World Cup meeting for any rider with more than ten mounts, winning in seven races from 24 attempts.

Stevens’ Dubai World Cup Card Victories

Year

Winner

Race

1996

Key of Luck

Dubai Duty Free

1998

Silver Charm

Dubai World Cup

1998

Annus Mirabilis

Dubai Duty Free

1999

Ramp and Rave

Dubai Golden Shaheen

2002

Grey Memo

Godolphin Mile

2002

Caller One

Dubai Golden Shaheen

2004

Polish Summer

Dubai Sheema Classic

If he wants to up that number, it will be a tactician’s specialty given the task facing his two main mounts.

“Dullahan needs a trip similar to the one he had defeating Game On Dude in the Pacific Classic. He has a ferocious 3 ½-furlong run.”

Little Mike, though, is a more sensitive.

Trainer Dale Romans has indicated that Little Mike will run in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free at 1 1/8 miles instead of the 1 ½ miles of the Dubai Sheema Classic. The son of Spanish Steps has a high cruising speed, and our November blog indicated the 16-1 winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf seemed tailor-made for the longer Sheema Classic, especially given the history of the race’s slow early sectionals and faster late sectionals. The last local prep race for the Dubai Sheema Classic, the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold, had a first 800-meter (half-mile) sectional in more than 58 seconds.

“I spent plenty of time riding in France for Andre Fabre,” Stevens recounted, “and those day-to-day races tend to be paceless and turn into absolute sprints. But when the Irish and English came to a big French race, you knew there would be pace.”

In other words, when the stars come out to run, the action heats up, and yields a truer result.

But that isn’t exactly what happened when Little Mike ran on to win the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill or the Arlington Million. The Florida-bred was allowed to gallop on easy, uncontested leads, and he never looked back. In races where Little Mike was pressured to run faster internal sectionals, such as the Shoemaker Mile and Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes, he faded.  Below are the sectional times we first shared back in November from those key races; first, the times from his four major wins, followed by the times of two defeats after taking pressure. Take specific notice of the bolded times.

Race

1st 1/4

2nd 1/4

3rd 1/4

4th 1/4

5th ¼

6th 1/4

Sunshine Millions Turf

23.60

24.40

23.84

22.83

 -

-

Woodford Reserve Turf Classic

23.78

24.49

24.54

23.69

-

-

Arlington Million

25.10

24.85

25.08

24.51

22.90

-

Breeders' Cup Turf

24.00

23.14

24.07

24.12

24.10

23.20

 

Race

FIN

1st 1/4

2nd 1/4

3rd 1/4

4th 1/4

Canadian Turf

4th

24.04

22.92

22.36

23.58

Shoemaker Mile

3rd

23.59

22.81

23.41

24.18 

The Dubai Duty Free is expected to be a competitive race with a big field, and the configuration of Meydan makes this a one-turn affair, something Little Mike did not encounter during his wildly successful 2012 run. The ability of Gary Stevens to dictate a steady pace without over-ambitious internal second and third sectionals will likely dictate how much success Little Mike has in one of the world’s richest turf races. 

LITTLE MIKE WINNING BREEDERS' CUP TURF

Little Mike BC12Eclipse

Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

Image Description

Pat Cummings

Pat Cummings is the Director of Racing Information for Trakus. Based in Boston, Mass., Trakus provides full-field in-race tracking, instantaneous motion graphics, and real-time information to racetrack operators worldwide. Trakus is currently installed at racetracks in the USA, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Data analysis from Trakus appears on Twitter regularly @TrakusRacing.

Cummings also serves as the editor of DubaiRaceNight.com, a comprehensive website covering racing in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. He has covered the Dubai World Cup on site each year since 2007 and provides selections for the entire season of racing in the United Arab Emirates and full-card analysis for all racing at Meydan. He also is the North American correspondent for Al Adiyat, a Dubai-based weekly racing publication.

Prior to joining Trakus, he worked for seven years in the financial services industry, and has served the racing industry in various capacities since 1999.  Pat was the backup announcer at Philadelphia Park (now Parx Racing) from 1999 to 2009, and also has called cards at Atlantic City Race Course, Louisiana Downs, Lone Star Park, Manor Downs, and Monmouth Park.

A member of the Turf Publicists of America, Pat earned his MBA from Baylor University in Texas and a BA from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

 

Image Description

Pat Cummings

Pat Cummings is the Director of Racing Information for Trakus. Based in Boston, Mass., Trakus provides full-field in-race tracking, instantaneous motion graphics, and real-time information to racetrack operators worldwide. Trakus is currently installed at racetracks in the USA, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Data analysis from Trakus appears on Twitter regularly @TrakusRacing.

Cummings also serves as the editor of DubaiRaceNight.com, a comprehensive website covering racing in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. He has covered the Dubai World Cup on site each year since 2007 and provides selections for the entire season of racing in the United Arab Emirates and full-card analysis for all racing at Meydan. He also is the North American correspondent for Al Adiyat, a Dubai-based weekly racing publication.

Prior to joining Trakus, he worked for seven years in the financial services industry, and has served the racing industry in various capacities since 1999.  Pat was the backup announcer at Philadelphia Park (now Parx Racing) from 1999 to 2009, and also has called cards at Atlantic City Race Course, Louisiana Downs, Lone Star Park, Manor Downs, and Monmouth Park.

A member of the Turf Publicists of America, Pat earned his MBA from Baylor University in Texas and a BA from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

 

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