Courtesy of Dubai Racing Club
Newly crowned Eclipse Award-winning trainer Dale Romans won’t have much time to rest on his laurels as he prepares two of his string’s stars to compete for the richest purses in the racing. Little Mike and Dullahan will soon pile up sky miles as they head to the United Arab Emirates to test their grit at the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Dale Romans is no stranger to international racing; he tasted victory in the 2005 Dubai World Cup (G1) with Roses in May, but times have certainly changed. Eight short years later, the purse has almost doubled growing from $6 million to today’s current prize of $10 million.
Romans trains two of the eight North American horses targeting world class rewards. Dullahan experienced a challenging 2012 campaign consisting of eight starts, two wins, one runner-up effort, and a third in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Facing his greatest challenge yet, the chestnut 4-year-old will travel abroad for the first time in an attempt to win the Dubai World Cup or Dubai Sheema Classic (G1).
DULLAHAN BEFORE THE PACIFIC CLASSIC (G1)
Photo courtesy Eclipse Sportswire
This half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird has amassed $1,714,091 in lifetime earnings and has performed well on dirt, turf, and synthetic surfaces. He began his 3-year-old season in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3) on Gulfstream Park’s grass course for owner Jerry Crawford of Donegeal Racing. An off-the-pace runner, Dullahan overcame slow fractions to cross the finish line only one length behind the victorious Howe Great. One month after this effort, Dullahan entered the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) on Keeneland’s speed-favoring Polytrack. He traveled wide at the top of the stretch to blow by the previous year’s champion juvenile, Hansen, and won by 1 ¼ lengths.
With his Blue Grass Stakes win, Dullahan established himself as a leading contender for the Kentucky Derby, a race in which he produced a determined third-place performance despite a disastrous trip over the 1 ¼-mile distance. He closed his Triple Crown with a seventh in the Belmont Stakes (G1), and later finished fifth in the Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1).
Dullahan shipped west to challenge some of North America’s top older horses on their home turf in the Pacific Classic Stakes (G1). He won authoritatively over the likes of Game On Dude, Richard’s Kid, and Rail Trip with a score of a half-length even after he had to travel five paths wide entering the stretch. Dullahan impressively broke Del Mar’s 1 ¼-mile track record established by last year’s winner, Acclamation.
Dullahan’s arduous campaign returned him to the East Coast for the Jamaica Handicap (G1) on Belmont Park’s turf course.He passed the finish line fifth with a 4 ½-length deficit to the victorious King David. The 3-year-old’s last race came in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita, closing his demanding season with a tired ninth behind stablemateLittle Mike.
Like Dullahan, Little Mike entertains the prospect of entering either the Dubai Sheema Classic or the card headliner, the Dubai World Cup. Little Mike’s connections will wisely ship the Florida-bred gelding in advance of World Cup night so he can compete on the 1,850 meter Tapeta Footings surface in order to determine which World Cup night race would better suit him. Carlo Vaccarezza’s homebred color bearer will attempt to become the first American trainee to win a prep race off the plane in Dubai before the Dubai World Cup since Curlin won the race in 2008. If he runs in the Dubai Sheema Classic, Little Mike could make his mark on the record books by becoming the first U.S.-trained winner in the 1 ½-mile contest’s history.
LITTLE MIKE HEADED TO THE TRACK IN THE ARLINGTON MILLION
Photo courtesy Eclipse Sportswire
During his 2012 campaign, Little Mike earned similar accolades to Tiznow as “America’s Horse.” He defended his home turf with a campaign highlighted by an Arlington Million (G1) win against the English raider Afsare (GB), and a victory over the American Point of Entry and Irish invader St Nicholas Abbey (Ire) in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Wins in last year’s Sunshine Millions Turf Stakes and the Woodford Turf Reserve Stakes (G1) helped Little Mike to accumulate more than $3 million in lifetime earnings. In addition to these 2012 victories, he finished a close fourth to Doubles Partner in the Canadian Turf Stakes (G3) and a formidable third in the Shoemaker Mile (G1).
The Dubai World Cup card takes place on March 30, 2013 and will be aired on TVG starting at 9:00 a.m. ET