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Bargain horse Little Mike aims for historic Million double

RamA. Dominguez Little Mike

Ramon A. Dominguez, Little Mike

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PP Horse Jockey Trainer Odds

1 Real Solution A. Garcia C. Brown 10-1

2 Finnegans Wake R. Albarado D. Romans 30-1

3 Hunter’s Light (IRE) R. Moore S. bin Suroor 8-1

4 Nates Mineshaft E. Baird A. Smith 30-1

5 Temeraine E. Castro T. Proctor 30-1

PP Horse Jockey Trainer Odds

6 Side Glance (GB) J. Spencer A. Balding 12-1

7 Indy Point (ARG) G. Stevens R. Mandella 9-2

8 Mull of Killough (IRE) J. O’Brien J. Chapple-Hyam 12-1

9 Guest of Honour (IRE) M. Hartley M. Botti 15-1

10 The Apache (SAF) C. Soumillon M. de Kock 6-1

PP Horse Jockey Trainer Odds

11 Little Mike J. Rosario D. Romans 5-1

12 Rahystrada R. Napravnik B. Hughes 20-1

13 Grandeur (IRE) W. Buick J. Noseda 7-2

Note: Odds are those listed in the morning line.

Updated: August 15, 2013 9:48PM

It cost $500 to make Little Mike.

His mother, Hay Jude, was given to Carlo Vaccarezza by a Chicago friend — for free.

“I feared someone would take her to the slaughterhouse,” Vaccarezza recalled.

He said he paid only a $500 stud fee for Spanish Steps — a son of Unbridled — to sire Little Mike, who is owned by Vaccarezza’s Chicago-born wife, Priscilla.

“A $500 horse from a giveaway mare,” Vaccarezza, a breeder, said Thursday with a laugh.

In the 31st running of the Arlington Million on Saturday (5 p.m.,
Ch. 9), Little Mike has a chance to make history as the first to win the race in consecutive years.

The 6-year-old gelding — named for the Vaccarezzas’ now-12-year-old son — dominated wire-to-wire at Arlington Park last year. He’s earned more than $3 million in his career, winning half his 24 starts.

Little Mike can earn an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf with a win in the crown jewel of Arlington Park’s three Grade I stakes, which include the $750,000 Beverly D and the $500,000 Secretariat.

John Henry — the two-time Eclipse Horse of the Year who shared Little Mike’s humble heritage — is the only one to take the Million twice, in 1981 and 1984.

“[John Henry is] a Hall of Fame horse,” Vaccarezza said. “To be ahead of John Henry would be indescribable. I wouldn’t know how to react. That would be something where, I’d be lost for words.

“It’d be unbelievable.”

Little Mike hasn’t had a good year.

He started the season in Dubai, finishing eighth in the Maktoum Challenge Round 3, and then 11th in the Dubai Duty Free. He sprained his ankle in the latter, and returned to the States.

He was fourth last month at Monmouth Park’s United Nations race under new jockey Joel Rosario, who has the mount in the Million.

“Physically, there’s no excuse going into this race,” trainer Dale Romans said on a teleconference this week. “He’s doing as good as he can possibly do. He’s back to his old self.”

The field will be tougher than last year.

Vaccarezza called the 13 horses in the 11/4-mile turf race “one of the most competitive fields in the ­Arlington Million, ever.”

Irish gelding Grandeur — “The horse we need to beat,” Vaccarezza said — will start at the outside post and is a 7-2 morning-line favorite. Indy Point, at 9-2, will start at the No. 7 spot and will be ridden by ­legend Gary Stevens.

Little Mike, the third choice at 5-1, drew a “pretty good hole” at
No. 11, Vaccarezza said.

“We have to control the speed,” he said. “I hope the cards fold the right way.

“A little racing luck. That’s it.”

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