When trainer Andy Sardella went to the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania sale last fall, he had his sights set on acquiring a top-level type horse for owners Mike and Bill Pozefsky. Interested in a few but not zeroed in on any one in particular, Sardella observed the prices going up and up for the horses in the sale that had enjoyed a fair amount of early success or appeared to have some upside. Three year old Mikibytheseaside was next up to be auctioned and when Sardella bid $58,000, the bidding stopped. The young pacer had been trained by North America’s winningest conditioner Ron Burke and was riding a hot streak at the time of purchase. Burke had Mikibytheseaside from the start of his career and raced him as a baby in a 2020 campaign that saw him win once and hit the board six times in eleven starts. Not a bad rookie season but nothing dazzling.
Last year, at age three, Mikibytheseaside competed in a series and a few stakes races in Pennsylvania in his sophomore season before finding a home in conditional races at three PA tracks. All told, the Burke trainee hit the board in 20 of 25 starts in ’21 previous to the sale, winning four times. When looking at the catalog for the sale, Sardella had a few that he was interested in but Mikibytheseaside was one that stood above the rest. “We knew he wasn’t going to be cheap. He was a three year old who showed impressive lines, tactical gate speed and a knack for winning. Watching his replays, he looked to have a lot of fight in him and certainly seemed mature for a three year old. He also seemed to be versatile and powerful so we took our shot,” Sardella explained.
The only concern Sardella had with Mikibytheseaide was would he be able to handle a half-mile track? “He had pretty much only raced over 5/8 and 7/8 mile tracks when we got him so it was a bit of a concern. He’s a big horse, big gaited so I was anxious to get him home and train him a trip over our track. The first time he trained, he was smooth as can be over the turns so that was a big relief,” Miki’s new trainer admitted. Sardella then decided to race his new acquisition a few times before laying him off for the winter. Mikisbytheseaside still fit the winners of two but not more than five race lifetime class at Saratoga Casino Hotel and he jogged at that level in his Spa debut in November. He handled a step up in company into a $12,300 condition smoothly as he rattled off back-to-back jacks in the higher class to move his local record to three-for-three last fall before wrapping up his season in December.
Mikibytheseaside kicked off his 2022 campaign with a couple of qualifiers in March, winning them both in pretty impressive fashion. Jimmy Devaux piloted the Sardella trainee in all three of his local victories last season and in both qualifiers upon returning but when the four year old made his official ’22 debut in early April, it was veteran reinsman Jay Randall who got the call to pilot the Sardella stable’s new star. Randall sat behind Miki who cruised to a pretty decisive win in his debut at the Winners Over level going coast-to-coast in 1:54 in the $13,000 undercard to the local feature for pacers. From there, it was up into the Open Pace for Mikibytheseaside who drew post eight for his first try against the track’s top pacers back in early April. Randall was forced to take back with the budding star who despite being interfered with approaching the half finished second in his Open debut. That start was the first of three consecutive ones in which Mikibytheseaside wound up as the runner-up in the regular Saturday feature.
The four year old continued to stamp himself as a formidable Open horse in the weeks that followed his second-place finishes in the $15,000 feature and on June 4th, the up-and-comer drew the rail while facing the track’s top pacers. Billy Dobson got the driving assignment behind the Sardella trainee and was aggressive from the get-go. Mikibytheseaside got involved in a good, old fashioned speed duel at the start and after eventually settling into the pocket evacuated that spot heading towards the three-quarter pole. Dismissed at odds of 7-1, Mikibytheseaside came on to win his first ever Open doing so in 1:54.2. “We were really proud of him,” Sardella said. “Even though he’s four, he acts like a veteran. He’s a smart, confident horse who knows when to be aggressive and when to kind of throttle back a bit and take care of himself. Definitely wise beyond his years.”
After taking a week off following his Open score, it was back into the feature last Saturday night for Mikibytheseaside who had young reinsman Luke Hanners piloting him for the first time. Leaving from post four, Miki wound up in the pocket behind Lake Charles, a four-time winner of the Open this season. The race’s favorite Apex Seelster rushed up first-over to confront Lake Charles while Mikibytheseaside sat in behind the dueling leaders. Those three battled to the wire where Apex Seelster emerged victorious. Mikibytheseaside followed up his Open win with a strong second-place finish on Saturday night and did so while at odds of 12-1. When asked what he was most excited about with his still new acquisition, Sardella said “versatility. He loves the front end and seems to relax there pretty well but he’s been coming from off the pace and has really thrived with closing efforts as well. When you race against these top-flight horses, you have to be able to come from behind. Leaving every week is just way to difficult and puts too much wear and tear on any horse.” As far as what the future holds for Mikibytheseaside, Sardella’s first response was no different than any trainer I speak to about their horses. “Soundness. Have to keep him safe and healthy. He’s not a conventional, top-flight Open horse. He’s probably a notch below the best pacers here but he’s done nothing but good things since we’ve gotten him and I think he’ll continue to get better as he matures. He hasn’t reached his peak yet so we’re hoping when he does, he’ll be a legit, long-term threat in the Open.” Whatever the future holds for Mikibytheseaside, the beginning of his local career has certainly been impactful as in twelve starts at Saratoga, he has five wins, four seconds and a third while spending his entire ’22 campaign to this point competing in Winners Over and Open competition. Mikibytheseaside is certainly making waves at the Spa.
Live racing takes place on Friday and Saturday evenings starting at 5PM and Sunday and Monday afternoons with first post times set for 12 Noon. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!