Big Drama became the sixth 2-year-old to sweep all three legs of the open Florida Stallion Stakes in its 27-year history when he romped to a five-length win as the even-money choice in the $400,000 In Reality Stakes at Calder Race Course Oct. 18.
Calder leading jockey Paco Lopez, on his 23rd birthday, got a great gift when the rail opened up on the final turn, enabling Big Drama to slip past pacesetter Three Part Harmony and build an insurmountable lead in the stretch.
In the $400,000 My Dear Girl Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, favored La Chica Sensual took command at the top of the stretch and drew away in the final furlong for a 4 1/2-length win with Eddie Castro aboard.
Racing for the first time at a route distance in the 1 1/16-mile event, Big Drama defeated a large field while breaking from the rail. The Montbrook colt had to steady behind Three Part Harmony coming out of the first turn but was able to stay out of trouble the rest of the way. With Three Part Harmony racing off the rail on the lead, Big Drama was in position to exploit the opening and grab the lead coming into the lane. He drew off nicely under urging to post an easy win.
“I know this horse shows speed, but today the plan was to sit about third or fourth, maybe closer if the pace was very slow like it was," said Lopez, who rode the dark bay in each of the FSS races. "The idea was that it’s a longer race than he has run before and we wanted to be sure to have something left for the stretch. I actually think he ran better today because we did relax early in the race as opposed to challenging the leader.”
Big Drama, who has now won four races in a row, began the FSS with a three-length win in the six-furlong Dr. Fager Aug. 16 at odds of 8-1. He followed that with a 3 1/2-length triumph in the seven-furlong Affirmed Sept. 6 as the second choice at odds of 8-5. In both of the wins, Big Drama was close to the lead while racing second before taking command.
“I really thought he’d be the favorite today," winning trainer David Fawkes said. "But what surprised me was seeing Three Part Harmony want the lead and then holding us in there (on the rail). Whenever you have the favorite, they try to race ride you. But I think Manoel Cruz (aboard Three Part Harmony) knew that he was out of horse and allowed us to come up on the rail. (Big Drama) overcame a lot today and showed that he has a lot of guts.”
Three Part Harmony, who posted soft fractions of :24.48, :49.65 and 1:14.13, finished well to take second by 2 1/2 lengths over Edgemoor and Castro. Sincero finished fourth. Ambuscador was pulled up in the stretch and did not finish. Dryden, who stumbled badly at the start, was outrun early and was also pulled up in the stretch. He was removed from the track by van.
Big Drama joined FSS winners Smile (1984), Naked Greed (1991), Seacliff (1995), Express Tour (2000), and Sir Oscar (2003). The series started at Calder in 1982.
Owned and bred by Harold L. Queen out of the Notebook mare Riveting Drama, Big Drama began his career with a third-place finish against maiden special weights July 12 and has not lost since. His victory, worth $240,000, improved his bankroll to $410,250.
The winner paid $4, $2.80 and $2.10. Three Part Harmony, who also ran second in the Affirmed for trainer Jose Pinchin, returned $6.20 and $4. Edgemoor, coming off a maiden win for Eddie Plesa Jr., was $4.20 to show.
With the win in the My Dear Girl, La Chica Sensual came within in a head of sweeping the filly division of the Florida Stallion series for trainer Pablo Andrade and owners Jennifer Harries and Brenda Tabraue. She won the Desert Vixen by 8 1/4 lengths as the favorite Aug. 16, but was upset by a head in the Susan's Girl by Aroma de Mujer, who ran 11th in the My Dear Girl.
"It’s a shame that she couldn’t win the 'triple crown', but that’s racing," Andrade said. "We’ve worked hard to get this far. I think she’s the best 2-year-old filly on the grounds. I think she’s going to like the longer distances.”
La Chica Sensual, a daughter of Lightnin N Thunder --Lerma, by Unbridled, was making her first route try in the 1 1/16-mile My Dear Girl. She raced in eighth as Whatta Light, pressed by 56-1 shot Garter Belt, carved tepid quarter-mile fractions of :24.02, :49.12 and 1:14.68. La Chica Sensual advanced on the final turn while four wide, getting the lead from Garter Belt, who had taken over on the turn.
“She broke very sharp like she wanted to be on the lead, but then she got bumped a bit and lost some position and started to relax and fall back," Casto said. "Once we reached the five-eighths pole, she got back on the bit and into the race. From there it was just a matter of letting her go ahead and run, so it all worked out.”
There was no challenge for the winner in the stretch as Trippi's Greatstar, ridden by Paco Lopez, overcame a jostled start to gain the runner-up spot by a half-length over Exe and Charles Lopez. Garter Belt finished fourth. The winning time was 1:48.41.
The victory was the fourth in six starts for La Chica Sensual, who has never finished worse than second. The winner's share of $240,000 boosted the gray filly's earnings to $365,660.
Arthur Appleton bred La Chica Sensual, a $6,000 buy at the Ocala Breeders' Sale in August 2007.
Sent off as the 13-10 choice in the field of 14, La Chica Sensual paid $4.60, $3.20 and $2.80. Trippi's Greatstar, third in the Susan's Girl for trainer Ralph Ziadie, returned $6.20 and $4.40. Exe was $10.40 to show in her stakes debut for trainer Edward Plesa Jr.