Big Drama Sets Track Record In Mr. Prospector
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – It won’t be known if Big Drama is officially a champion for a couple more days, but the 5-year-old South Florida-based speedster made it crystal clear Saturday that is he undoubtedly the country’s premier sprinter.
The favorite to honored with an Eclipse Award at the Fontainebleau in Miami Monday evening, Big Drama made an emphatic statement concerning his sprinting superiority by notching his second track record at Gulfstream Park with an authoritative four-length victory in the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3). After breaking swiftly from the starting gate as the 1-2 favorite in a field of six, Big Drama sped six-furlongs in a dazzling 1:08.12, eclipsing the Tiger’s 2006 record of 1:08.46.
Big Drama ($3), who established himself as an Eclipse Award favorite by capturing the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint last fall at Churchill Downs, set a track record for seven furlongs (1:20 4/5) while finishing first in the 2009 Swale Stakes (G2) in his only other Gulfstream Park appearance.
“Now we’ll keep our fingers crossed until Monday night,” said trainer David Fawkes following Big Drama’s 10th win in 17 starts for breeder and owner Harold Queen.
Ridden by Eibar Coa, the son of Montbrook gained the early lead from his outside post position, while Custom for Carlos, the 2010 Mr. Prospector winner making his first start since last April, rushed from his rail post-position into contention inside the pacesetting favorite. Jockey Julien Leparoux opted to ease back a bit to take Custom for Carlos to the outside. After running five furlongs in a swift 56 seconds, Big Drama was challenged by Custom for Carlos, who gave it a good fight to mid-stretch before tiring.
“I thought Custom for Carlos would run well today and when a horse of that quality makes a run at you, you have to be a little nervous,” Fawkes said. “But he (Big Drama) showed how good he is. He wasn’t even blowing when he came back.”
Big Drama earned $60,000 for his stunning 2011 debut, upping his career bankroll to $2,699,560.
“He’s not playing right now. When he out-broke those horses inside – and they’re fast horses – I just let him go by himself. That horse (Custom for Carlos) made a good move and got next to me, but it wasn’t enough,” Coa said. “I knew Big Drama was going to run fast and good. I’m happy he got the track record. He deserves it.”
Custom for Carlos, who is trained by Eddie Kenneally, was no match for Big Drama, but the 5-year-old son of More Than Ready was 13 lengths clear of third-place finisher Our Edge.
“He tried his best, he ran really good. Big Drama is probably the Eclipse Award winner, so it’s not a bad horse,” Leparoux said. “He fought pretty good, he just got a little tired. I thought it was an impressive race. Hopefully, he stays sound and we’ve got a good horse for this year.”
Fawkes said that he has no definite plans for Big Drama’s next race.
“The goal for the season is to get back to the Breeders’ Cup (Sprint) at Churchill Downs,” Fawkes said. “In the meantime, it’s one race at a time. It’s possible he could run here again, but he will get some breaks as the season goes along, so we’ll see.”
Tar Heel Mom is Old Self in Sugar Swirl
In Saturday’s co-featured $100,000 Sugar Swirl (G3), Tar Heel Mom ($7.40) withstood a strong stretch bid by Hilda’s Passion prevail by a neck in the six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares.
The 6-year-old mare, who pushed her career earnings past $500,000 with the $60,000 winner’s share of the purse, looked like her old self while capturing her eighth victory in 22 career starts. The daughter of Flatter showed no ill effects from surgery to repair a condylar fracture of a hind cannon bone suffered while finishing third in the Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont last May.
“We put a screw in it and she came back good, so we decided to go on with her,” said trainer Stanley Hough, whose mare finished third in her return to action last monthy at Aqueduct. “She might have been a little short for her race back.”
Ridden by Alan Garcia, Tar Heel Mom raced just outside an early duel by D’wild Ride and Moontune Missy before moving to the lead on the turn into the homestretch. The Kentucky-bred mare took the lead into the stretch, only to be challenged by Hilda’s Passion to her outside. Tar Heel Mom held her challenger safe by a neck, completing the six furlongs in 1:09.75.
“She’s a nice filly and always tries hard, and she demonstrated that today,” Garcia said. “I had a great feeling when she took the lead and had a lot of horse at the end.”
Hilda’s Passion, the 2-1 favorite ridden by Javier Castellano, finished 2-1/4 lengths ahead of Ms Vanenzza in third.
“I’m very happy with her effort today. She kept fighting and gave me everything she had turning for home,” Castellano said. “I was outside a little bit, but I give credit to the winner.”
Hough said Tar Heel Mom would likely run next in the $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Stakes at Gulfstream on Feb.13.
“If she’s still going good, we’ll keep her in training,” Hough said. “If not, and she shows signs of age, there is still a window to breeder her.
Rainbow 6 Carryover Climbs
A carryover of $73,357 will be available to Gulfstream bettors in the 10-cent Rainbow 6 on Sunday. Tickets with all six winners on Saturday’s card each cashed for $4,849.54, but a carryover resulted when there was not only one winning ticket.