In her previous start, Sheer Drama settled for a runner-up finish to Frivolous in the Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) June 13 at Churchill Downs, but on Saturday she tracked front-running Frivolous for about one mile before launching her run approaching the top of the stretch. The two dueled early in the stretch before Harold Queen's homebred Sheer Drama powered clear late under Joe Bravo.
Sheer Drama, a 5-year-old Florida-bred mare by Burning Roma out of the Notebook mare Riveting Drama, is trained by David Fawkes.
Frivolous, under Jon Court, was on the lead out of the chute at the top of the stretch in the 1 1/4-mile race and settled in on an easy lead with Sheer Drama a length behind through an opening quarter-mile in :24.45. Frivolous continued unchallenged through a half-mile in :48.83 and six furlongs in 1:12.57 with Sheer Drama two lengths behind.
Bravo asked Sheer Drama to pick it up approaching the top of the stretch after one mile in 1:36.23, and she ranged up outside of the front-runner to turn the Del Cap into a two-horse race as none of the other five entrants appeared to have strong late run. Sheer Drama turned a head advantage into a two-length victory at the finish.
The final time for the 1 1/4 miles was 2:01.58 on a fast track. Sheer Drama paid $7 to win as the second choice.
Frivolous was second, 3 3/4 lengths ahead of America, who put in a mild bid from fifth. Flashy American faded to fourth after sitting in third for most of the way, while favored Rosalind, Joint Return, and Fortune Pearl failed to mount rallies. Frivolous returned $5.60 to place and $3.80 to show while America paid $4.60 to show.
It was the fifth win in 18 starts for Sheer Drama, who also has eight seconds and a third. The $450,000 winner's share of the purse pushed her earnings to $918,840.
Queen had penciled in the Del Cap about three months ago for Sheer Drama, who won the grade II Royal Delta Stakes at Gulfstream Park earlier this year but had four seconds in her other four starts.
"Winning a grade I with her is a big deal," Fawkes said. "This race played out just like the Fleur de Lis, but I knew the added distance would help us. I love when she was sitting second. It was picture-perfect."
Sheer Drama arrived at Delaware Park July 13 and had plenty of time to get acclimated to the local surface. The last time she raced at Delaware Park was June 13, 2013, when she finished second in her career debut.
"It always takes her a day to get settled in, so it worked out well," Fawkes said. "(Trainer) Tim Ice lent me a stall, and Delaware Park took good care of me."
The Del Cap isn't a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" event, but Fawkes said the goal for the rest of this year is to get Sheer Drama to the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I), which will be held at Keeneland this year.
"We're not sure where she'll go next, and I'll talk to Mr. Queen, but I would think we have to go to the Breeders' Cup. It's kind of like when her brother won a 'Win and You're In' race and we targeted the Breeders' Cup. It was perfect."
Big Drama, by Montbrook out of Riveting Drama, won the 2010 Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) for Fawkes and owner/breeder Queen.