THE MODERATOR: Live in the interview room with Team Little Mike. We have trainer Dale Romans, owner Carlo Vaccarezza, and Nick, who is Little Nick's older half brother and the human Little Mike, Mike Vaccarezza, and the owner of record, Priscilla Vaccarezza.
Congratulations to all 5 of you, and Dale, I guess I have to ask you first, among the various decisions you had to make about which horse should run in which Breeders' Cup races, perhaps the decision that was questioned most was Little Mike in the Turf?
Obviously he is a free‑running sort. What prompted to you send him long after what was a less than exciting effort in the Turf Classic.
DALE ROMANS: Carlo and I discuss every issue and the good thing about training for them is you know you're not going to have to be second guessed. You can make the right decision rather than the decision everybody thinks you should make.
We have been planning all year, stretch him, stretch him, stretch him. And we had a knee‑jerk reaction after the race at Belmont on the soft turf and we decided the best thing was to go the mile and a half and control the race. We didn't think we can control the race with the mile race. There were pretty fast horses in there.
Q. Typically Little Mike does his thing on the lead and makes everybody chase him. Carlo, were you concerned, Little Mike was in third rather than on the lead?
CARLO VACCAREZZA: Actually not because Dale told Ramon any other horse goes in the lead, lay second or third. And it's very hard ‑‑ Little Mike is very unique. He has raw talent out of the gate. He's very fast.
By the same token, he got a lot of stamina, so if he goes in front, they try to run with Little Mike they not going to beat him, and he can burn you at the end, because he can come home in 11. It's a unique horse, a lot of speed and a lot of stamina.
DALE ROMANS: Even if a horse got in front of him they weren't going to outrun him, and in the mile we thought if there were horses that got in front of him we couldn't outkick him.
Q. Were any of you worried when Trailblazer looked like he was going to take command?
NICK VACCAREZZA: When he crossed over the dirt the first time around and the ‑‑ I was worried because he's never off the lead, and I was worried about if he could pass up Turbo.
DALE ROMANS: I was worried until he pulled up on the backside.
Q. And much was made about the very soft conditions last time at Belmont, how are, he had run on good turf before, it wasn't like he needed a pool table to succeed in the past. Was the course so soft at Belmont that it wasn't even approaching the softish conditions he had faced before?
CARLO VACCAREZZA: Well, Belmont Park, from the start of the race he ‑‑ himself going, rained like three or four days in a row in New York that day, it was very high turf and it was very soft.
So Ramon did the right thing with the horse. He didn't try to hurt him and we finished fifth or sixth in that race and looking back it was the best thing that ever happened to Little Mike.
DALE ROMANS: That was a track that you had to like to go on to do any good at all. He can run with some cut in the ground but they were sinking down to their ankles that day and he just didn't like any part of it. But it made it easy to draw a line through the race.
NICK VACCAREZZA: You have to remember that after the race Little Mike had a swollen eye after the race, so he did get hit in the eye by something during that race.
Q. Considering what you have accomplished this year what is his best distance?
DALE ROMANS: Today it's a mile and a half. He's a phenomenal horse. He's an overachiever and he's proven us all wrong. I don't think anybody up here thought he could be more than a miler last year and now we don't know where his limit is.
CARLO VACCAREZZA: Whoever is getting this message, it will be a disgrace if Dale Romans is not in the Hall of Fame!
THE MODERATOR: We should mention this is Dale's third Breeders' Cup winning along with Tapitsfly and Court Vision last year, and also Ramon Dominguez's third win with Better Top and last year with Hanson. We have questions in the room and from upstairs, and we'll start with Tom.
Q. Little Mike has shown he has a big heart and he ran the Arlington Million and the Three Million Dollar Race here, so maybe you ought to change his name. Given the fact that he raced poorly in the Turf Classic in New York, how much of a contributing factor did the firm course help you today?
DALE ROMANS: We can run on just about anything but I don't think ‑‑ there aren't many races that would have been left on that course at Belmont Park if it weren't such an important prep, there is no way they would have left that on, that track was for the taking for a horse that loved the going, that being said we're not going to have to face those very often.
Q. Dale, thank you for being accommodating with the media, it's been an honor to have you here. That said, the way you won today is there any chance that you would come out here with this horse this winter?
DALE ROMANS: All options are open, we're looking at Dubai, there are a couple of races over there for him, have horse, will travel, we'll take him anywhere.
CARLO VACCAREZZA: On behalf of the Romans team I would like to thank Santa Anita for an unbelievable way that they act and they treat us phenomenally, it was accommodating and cheers to you guys.
DALE ROMANS: It has been unbelievable experience to be out in Santa Anita the way they treat the family and ours and our team, she has been here for three weeks and she is trying to talk me into bringing a lot of horses out here.
CARLO VACCAREZZA: We need 30 stalls.
Q. Let's put Dale's induction into the Hall of Fame on the back burner.
CARLO VACCAREZZA: Should never be on the back burner. I think that's on the front burner.
Q. But, if you would, weigh in on where you think Dale stacks up in terms of who should be the Eclipse award winning trainer for this year?
CARLO VACCAREZZA: Easy question! Just what he did with Little Mike, Sunshine Million, Woodford Reserve, Arlington Million and the Classic today, not only should be a Hall of Fame, Little Mike should be the Eclipse Award on the Turf. We beat Point of Entry, and if for whatever crazy reason why he's not in the field today, I don't think it's any question who will be the Eclipse Award on the Turf.
Q. Did he forget about any of the races?
DALE ROMANS: He forgot about all the other horses we train, but it's been a great year. All of those things will take care of themselves but I think Little Mike's Turf Champion. He has won two of the most prestigious races in this country on the grass. Wise Dan had a great year but when you put the Arlington Million and the Turf Classic in the same year, I think you're a champion.
Q. Priscilla, today is the highlight of Little Mike's career so far, but he's been an exciting horse from the beginning, right when Joe Bravo was riding him for Allen Iwinski running at Monmouth Park, and showing a lot of promise, what's it been like, the whole trip?
PRISCILLA VACCAREZZA: I have to say when no one believes in Little Mike, he does it. When he's not the favorite and no one thinks he can do the extra distance and when I'm nervous and don't think he has a chance, he wins! Maybe they will give him some respect after that, I don't know. Maybe because his name is Little Mike!
CARLO VACCAREZZA: A little respect.
PRISCILLA VACCAREZZA: A super weapon there.
CARLO VACCAREZZA: We have to acknowledge one person. I think Jimmy Crupi of Castle Farm, they did an unbelievable job of racing the horse, breaking him in and training him, and he deserves a lot of credit.
THE MODERATOR: Carlo, congratulations to you, Dale, Nick, Mike, and Priscilla.
PRISCILLA VACCAREZZA: And our daughter Alexis, who couldn't be here today.
THE MODERATOR: I'm sure she is pleased as well, and it's a great victory and a culminating effort from the beginning. We look forward to other races with Little Mike. Congratulations.
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