Big Drama, winner of the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) and a finalist for champion sprinter at the Jan. 17 Eclipse Awards, will begin his 5-year-old campaign against a short field in the $100,000 Mr. Prospector (gr. III) Jan. 15 at Gulfstream Park.
Based at Calder Casino & Race Course for trainer David Fawkes, Big Drama appears ready to pick up where he left off after scoring the Breeders' Cup Sprint by 1 1/2 lengths Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs. The son of Montbrook has been training exceptionally well in South Florida, most recently ripping off a bullet four-furlong work in :47 3/5 on Jan. 8. Regular rider Eibar Coa will be back aboard in the six-furlong event, which along with the Sugar Swirl Stakes (gr. III) anchors Gulfstream’s 10–race card.
Though Big Drama is likely to be an odds-on choice, he will have to overcome a serious threat. Custom for Carlos, a 5-year-old son of More Than Ready, won the Mr. Prospector a year ago and took the Count Fleet Handicap (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park in his last start. But the Count Fleet was back in April and the bay horse, who suffered a hoof injury in June, will have to defeat Big Drama off a nine-month layoff.
Custom for Carlos has been working well for trainer Eddie Kenneally at Palm Meadows, posting bullet breezes his last three times out. including a five-furlong move in 1:00 2/5 Jan. 8. Julien Leparoux will have the mount on the probable second choice.
Owned by Homewrecker Racing and Avalon Farm, Custom for Carlos has won three of his last four starts, including the 2010 Mr. Prospector by three-quarters of a length. He has four starts over the Gulfstream strip, including a maiden victory in 2009.
Big Drama handily defeated Custom for Carlos in the 2009 Swale (gr. II) at Gulfstream, finishing five lengths ahead of his third-place rival despite being disqualified for interference and being placed second. A homebred of Harold Queen, the Florida-bred horse has won nine of 16 lifetime starts for earnings of more than $2.6 million. Big Drama capped off a sensational 4-year-old season in the Breeders’ Cup, one in which he scored three of five starts with two runner-ups.
In addition to his Breeders' Cup victory, Big Drama won the Poncho Handicap and Smile Sprint Handicap (gr. II)—both at Calder. He was second in a pair of grade I races at Saratoga.
The other graded winners in the race are Taqarub, who took the Maryland Sprint Handicap (gr. III) and was fourth to Big Drama in the Smile Sprint, and the Nick Zito trainee Our Edge, a winner of just one of nine starts last year. Our Edge won the Barbaro Stakes (gr. III) at Delaware Park in 2009.
The wild card in the field might be Peace At Dawn, a gelded son of Peace Rules who closed out his 3-year-old season with two romping victories at Calder in optional claiming company. Peace At Dawn was third in the July 10 Carry Back (gr. II) in his only graded stakes try. Paco Lopez will ride for Milton Wolfson.
$100,000 Mr. Prospector (gr. III, Race 7, 3:52 p.m. EST), 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Custom for Carlos (KY), J R Leparoux, 122, E Kenneally
2. Our Edge (FL), J Castellano, 118, N P Zito
3. Taqarub (KY), A Garcia, 122, K P McLaughlin
4. Peace At Dawn (FL), P Lopez, 118, M W Wolfson
5. Catalan (KY), R Curatolo, 118, P L Biancone
6. Big Drama (FL), E Coa, 124, D Fawkes