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Jul 05, 2013

Little Mike returns in United Nations Handicap


Oceanport, NJ (Sports Network) - Breeders' Cup Turf winner Little Mike gets back into action Saturday in the $500,000 United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park. The 6-year-old gelding will take on seven rivals in the 1 3/8-mile turf event.

The United Nations is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race, giving the winner a berth in the 1 1/2-mile Turf on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.

Trained by Dale Romans, Little Mike will start from post 7 with Joel Rosario getting the ride. Rosario will be the fourth different jockey for the gelding in as many races.

Little Mike, owned by Priscilla Vaccarezza, will be making his first start this year after two poor showings in Dubai. He finished eighth and 11th in a pair of stakes both run in March.

In addition to the Breeders' Cup Turf, the gelding posted wins in 2012 in the Florida Sunshine Millions Turf, Turf Classic at Churchill Downs and Arlington Million. He has earned $3,074,412 with 12 wins in 23 lifetime starts.

The top two horses from the Dixie Handicap at Pimlico, Skyring and Willcox Inn, are both entered to take on Little Mike.

Skyring, owned by Calumet Farm, will be ridden by Gary Stevens and break from post 5. The 4-year-old colt was a front-running winner of the Dixie with Stevens in the saddle.

Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Skyring has won four of 20 career starts for $424,148.

Leaving from the inside post will be Willcox Inn with jockey James Graham. The 5-year-old is owned by Lael Stable and All In Stable with Mike Stidham training.

Willcox Inn has finished second by a half-length in each of his last two starts, the Dixie and Mervin H. Munoz Jr. Memorial at Fair Grounds. This year he was fourth in the Fair Grounds Handicap and third at San Houston in the John B. Connolly Turf Cup.

In 2012, Willcox Inn was eighth to Little Mike in the Arlington Million and finished his campaign in the Breeders' Cup Mile with a ninth-place result behind Wise Dan. He comes into Saturday with five wins in 18 starts and $835,443.

Here is the complete field in post position order: Willcox Inn, James Graham; Big Blue Kitten, Joe Bravo; Russian Greek, Ryan Barber; Teaks North, Eddie Castro; Skyring, Gary Stevens; Harrods Creek, Elvis Trujillo; Little Mike, Joel Rosario and Hangover Kid, Gabriel Saez.

The United Nations has an approximate post-time of 6 p.m. (ET).

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