Affirmed, Susan’s Girl Top Six Stakes Worth $1.05 Million
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer David Fawkes experienced a career highlight when Big Drama scored a front-running triumph in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs in 2010.
Subsequently honored with an Eclipse Award as North America’s champion sprinter, Big Drama provided his trainer with many memorable moments during his 19-race career, as well as a most promising candidate for Saturday’s $300,000 Affirmed Division of the Florida Sire Stakes (FSS) at Gulfstream Park.
The seven-furlong Affirmed (for colts and geldings) and the $300,000 Susan’s Girl (for fillies) will be co-features on Saturday’s 12-race program with six stakes worth $1.05 million in purses. The $150,000 Prized (for colts and geldings) and the $150,000 Jewel Princess (for fillies), both at a mile on turf for FSS-nominated 3-year-olds, the $75,000 The Vid and the $75,000 Wasted Tears will also be contested on Saturday’s card.
Tribal Drama, a juvenile son of Big Drama, didn’t compete in the first leg of the lucrative series for 2-year-old horses sired by nominated Florida stallions, winning his debut just six days before the $200,000 Dr. Fager was run at Gulfstream Park Aug. 8.
“Naturally, I wanted to run in the first race, but it didn’t happen,” Fawkes said. “We knew he was OK, but we didn’t want to put him right in there in his first start.”
Tribal Drama’s abundant talent was hardly a secret when he debuted as the 4-5 favorite in a five-furlong maiden special weight race. Hallmarc Racing LLC’s colt lived up to the hype, romping to a 5 ¾-length triumph under Eddie Castro.
The Florida-bred colt had instilled a lot of confidence in Fawkes while training for his debut.
“He did everything right. He’s done nothing wrong since he’s been here. He’s gone through all his paces. He’s been great. He’s worked good,” Fawkes said. “When you work him, he’ll rate, he’ll sit. When you ask him to go, he has plenty of finish.”
Fawkes, who saddled Big Drama’s half-sister, Sheer Drama, for a victory in the Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga last Saturday, has been impressed with his 2010 champion sprinter’s first crop of offspring.
“When I see a lighter-built one, I like them better, not the big heavy ones. I like those more like Big Drama, not like (his sire) Montbrook – he was a big heavy horse. Big Drama wasn’t a big heavy horse. He was great size and had a really efficient way of moving, really well balanced,” said Fawkes, noting that Tribal Drama, physically, takes after his sire.
Tribal Drama is set to face a field of 12, including the Dr. Fager’s first six finishers: Dream of Me, Mr. Kisses, Brighton Lane, Li’l Meatball, Fellowship and Danbury
Kathy Machesky’s Dream of Me pressed the pace set by Champion Equine’s Mr. Kisses into the stretch before drawing off to a 2 ¼-length victory under Eduardo Nunez. Trained by Anna Varsi, the son of High Cotton had previously broken his maiden in his second lifetime start July 26.
David Braddy-trained Mr. Kisses, another son of Big Drama, had captured a $50,000 maiden claiming race in his second start on July 24 before making the jump to stakes company with his second-place finish in the Dr. Fager.
Brighton Lane, who finished 1 ½ lengths behind Mr. Kisses, was one of three Jacks or Better Farm homebreds entered by trainer Stanley Gold. Fellowship, a stakes-placed colt who finished fifth in the Dr. Fager, and recent maiden winner Abercorn are slated to join Brighton Lane in the starting gate.
Jacks or Better Farm and Gold have teamed for a record 16 Florida Sire Stakes successes.
A full brother to multiple-Grade 1 stakes winner Jackson Bend, Brighton Lane has raced twice, both breaking from the No. 1 post, winning his debut on May 29 and making a five-wide move on the turn to check in a fast-finishing third in the six-furlong Dr. Fager.
“The extra furlong should help for sure and not getting the 1-hole for the third will also help for sure,” said Gold, whose well-connected colt drew the No. 7 post. “He’s got such a good attitude. He has so much play-around, he doesn’t seem bothered with anything that’s happening out there. He had the worst of it twice being in the 1-hole. He got buried twice. One time he got to the outside. The other time he kicked in at the eighth-pole. He really kicked in. You could see he ran the fastest last quarter.”
Fellowship, a son of Awesome of Course, was an impressive first-out winner and runner-up in the Birdonthewire Stakes before racing evenly in the Dr. Fager.
“Fellowship has disappointed me. I put blinkers on – that might help,” Gold said. “I hope it’s not a misjudgment of my opinion of him.”
Abercorn broke through with a 3 ½-length maiden win on Aug. 18 in his third lifetime start.
“Abercorn seems to be coming into his own, so the timing was right,” Gold said of the son of Brooks ‘n Down. “Sometimes a horse gets good at the right time, so we put him in there.”
Li’l Meatball, who had the lead in the Dr. Fager at the top of the stretch before weakening to fourth; Danbury, a first-out winner who finished sixth after wide trip in the Dr. Fager; are slated to seek to make amends in the Affirmed.
New Florida Sire Stakes faces include Swagger Jagger, Biggest Drama, No More Chillin and Night Rythm.