Big Drama winning the Whippleton Stakes.

Big Drama winning the Whippleton Stakes.

Courtesy of Calder

Big Drama Wins Stakes Tuneup at Calder

Champion sprinter takes step toward defending title at Churchill Downs Nov. 5.

Eclipse champion sprinter Big Drama returned from a layoff of more than 6 ½ months with a 2-¼ length victory in the $72,750 Whippleton Stakes Sept. 4 (VIDEO) at Calder Casino & Race Course.

Owner/breeder Harold L. Queen and trainer David Fawkes are hoping the race, in which he defeated three rivals at odds of 1-10, will put him on track to defend his title in the $1.5 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Nov. 5.

“I was relieved when they (Calder race officials) got the race to go and we didn’t have to ship (to Monmouth), but I’m even more relieved now, and he did it without a shoe (left fore)," said Fawkes by phone from Saratoga. "We think he might have lost it leaving the gate.

"After he made the lead, he just coasted home. It was all very smooth. He’ll stay down there and train and then be flown up here (Belmont Park) the week of the Vosburgh (Oct. 2).”
With jockey Daniel Centeno aboard, Big Drama broke from the rail in a field reduced by three scratches. He sat second behind a first quarter in :22.02 down the backstretch of the 6 1/2-furlong test before taking command into the far turn. He completed a half-mile in :45.42.

Big Drama ($2.20, $2.10), carrying 124 pounds, maintained a safe margin over second-choice Black Diamond Cat ($2.40) to the wire in 1:17.62 over a fast track. Peace At Dawn and Accredit completed the order of finish.

"I think he was very fit today, but he needed this race to get him over the top, said Centeno after riding Big Drama for the first time. "I appreciate and feel very fortunate to have been given the chance to ride such a special and talented racehorse and I can only hope that I would be considered to ride him in the future.”
The race was Big Drama’s first start since winning the Mr. Prospector Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 15 in track record time for six furlongs. That was his only appearance since sealing his Eclipse championship campaign winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill last Nov. 6.

The 5-year-old Florida homebred by Montbrook out of Riveting Drama, by Notebook, ran his career record to 18-11-4-21 and earnings of nearly $2.75 million.