Harold Queen’s 3-year-old Florida homebred Big Drama breezed an easy half-mile in :50-flat Feb. 22 at Calder, his first workout since Jan. 18 as the colt’s training schedule was interrupted by a bone bruise that required surgery after kicking himself in a shin in his stall.
“I was very pleased with his work this morning,” said trainer David Fawkes. “It’s a good start, but I don‘t have anything in particular in mind just yet until he gets further along. The good thing about him is that he’ll come along quickly, so I wouldn’t rule anything out at this point.
The son of Montbrook won his last five starts last year, including a sweep of the three open divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes series at Calder and the $750,000 Delta Jackpot (gr. III) at Delta Downs in Louisiana on Dec. 5, earning enough in that race to virtually guarantee him a berth in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) if he is up to the challenge.
Also on the 3-year-old workout tab was Shadwell Stable’s Taqarub as he heads into next weekend’s $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II). Taqarub, a 3-for-3 son of Aldebaran, worked Feb. 21 at Palm Meadows, going a bullet half-mile in :47-flat as he prepares for his first race over a track other than Aqueduct. He won the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes in his last start there Jan. 19.
Smooth Air and Einstien Set Plans
A pair of prominent older horses went to work on Feb. 22 as well, including Mount Joy Stable’s 4-year-old Florida homebred Smooth Air, who was timed seven furlongs in 1:29 for trainer Bennie Stutts Jr. The work was to get ready for his next likely start, the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) to be run at one mile on March 14.
The son of Smooth Jazz finished a game second by a half-length last out in the Tallahassee Stakes going one mile on grass on Feb. 7 in his first start since running a respectable seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.
Midnight Cry Stable’s 7-year-old horse Einstein worked Sunday morning at Gulfstream too, one that will get him prepared for the the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) on March 7.
The Brazilian-bred son of Spend a Buck is coming off a third-place effort in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) on Jan. 31. The work was his first since that effort when he overcame a wide post to finish in the money, 2 1/2-lengths behind winner Albertus Maximus.
“He was super and really ready to work today,” said trainer Helen Pitts-Blasi, who sent Einstein five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 under jockey Julien Leparoux, fastest of 27 horses timed at the distance. “His last race took a lot out of him, but he’s come out of it good and Julien said that he was great today.”
Of Einstein’s 23 career races, six wins have come in 16 grass starts, including two wins in the Gulfstream Park Turf (gr. IT) in 2006 and 2008. He has also won three times in seven dirt races, most notably the Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs last on Nov. 28. Four of his overall nine career victories have come on wet dirt tracks or turf.
Now he gets to try Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride artificial surface, and Pitts-Blasi is looking forward to the challenge.
“It should be very interesting because (people say) that grass horses should like it,” she said. “I’ve got a horse that is probably more of a grass horse than a dirt horse, but he does deal with both very well. A million dollars is enough of a reason to find out.”
Einstein will leave Feb. 25 and spend 10 days in Arcadia, Calif. Pitts-Blasi plans on working the horse over the surface once before the historic 1 1/4-mile test.