Big Drama In Mr. Prospector
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Big Drama is an Eclipse Award finalist, and all trainer David Fawkes can do is wait until Monday evening to learn if his Breeders’ Cup Sprint victor will be honored as the champion sprinter of 2010.
As Fawkes waits the big news to be announced at the Eclipse Awards Dinner at the Fountainebleau in Miami, the South Florida-based trainer will launch Big Drama’s campaign for the 2011 title Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
Big Drama is expected to establish himself as the horse to beat in race for this year’s top honors for sprinters in the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3). The 5-year-old son of Montbrook is the 4-5 morning-line favorite in a six-horse field on the strength of his stunning triumph in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs in his 2010 finale at Churchill Downs.
Owned and bred in Florida by Harold Queen, Big Drama has finished first or second in 13 or his 16 lifetime races while earning more than $2.6 million in purses. He has been an accomplished stakes winner in his first three racing seasons, sweeping the three-race Florida Stallion Series at 2, capturing the Swale Stakes (G2) at 3, and winning the Smile Sprint Handicap (G2), as well as the Sprint, at 4.
“He means a lot to us; he’s done so many things for us over the years,” Fawkes said. “He swept the Stallion Stakes and has done everything we asked him to do after that. He’s really a nice horse.”
In the Mr. Prospector, Big Drama will be reunited with jockey Eibar Coa, who has been aboard for all of his biggest successes. Coa’s job Saturday was made considerably less complicated by the fortuitous draw of the No. 6 post position.
“I think when you’re sprinting, the outside is always an advantage,” Fawkes said. “We drew the ‘1’ in the Breeders’ Cup, and it obviously didn’t hurt us. But I like the outside post.”
History substantiates Fawke’s opinion that the outside post should be an advantage for Big Drama, who prevailed by a half-length from the outside post in the six-horse 2009 Swale Stakes (G2), his only experience over the Gulfstream Park track. Big Drama was disqualified to second for bumping a tiring This One’s for Phil, but he was clearly best while setting a track record for seven furlongs (1:20 4/5).
Notably, Custom for Carlos, who is regarded as Big Drama’s most dangerous rival Saturday, finished third in the 2009 Swale, five lengths behind Fawkes’ trainee. The Eddie Kenneally-trained 5-year-old came back last year to capture the Mr. Prospector and the Count Fleet Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park. Unfortunately, he suffered a foot injury and will be making his first start since last April.
“We’ve had some good, decent works in him the past six or eight weeks at Palm Meadows and he’s ready to make his first start,” Kenneally said. “It’s a tough assignment from the layoff to run against horses like Big Drama, who’s probably the champion sprinter. It’s not ideal, but you’ve got to start somewhere.”
Custom for Carlos, a 5-year-old son of More Than Ready, will start from the No. 1 post position under Julien Leparoux.
“Post One is never ideal in a situation like this with lots of speed to our outside, so we’ll just let Julien play it by ear, depending how he breaks.-- no instructions,” Kenneally said. “He’ll just play the race the way it unfolds.”
Rounding out the Mr. Prospector field are: Taqarub, the winner of the Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) who finished fourth behind Big Drama in the Smile Sprint Handicap; Our Edge, a Nick Zito-trained 5-year-old who’ll be cutting back to a sprint distance after finishing second in an overnight stakes at Belmont in his 2010 finale; Peace At Dawn, who is coming off back-to-back allowance victories at Calder; and Catalan, a lightly-raced 4-year-old trained by Patrick Biancone.