Time will tell whether the precocious son of Kafwain can stretch his speed to the 1 1/16-mile distance of the $750,000 CashCall (formerly Hollywood) Futurity (gr. I) Dec. 22, but the Zayat Stables colt has handled everything thrown at him so far.
In his only previous start, Massive Drama overcame a brush at the eighth pole to break his maiden going six furlongs in an outstanding time of 1:09 on a muddy track at Monmouth Park Oct. 26. Asked to move cross-country earlier this month to run on a synthetic surface in the seven-furlong Prevue, Massive Drama proved quite determined after getting the lead shortly after the start. His time, 1:21.48, was just one tick off the Cushion Track mark for seven panels.
After breaking well for Kent Desormeaux, Massive Drama moved through along the inside to get the lead, completing the opening quarter mile in :22.11. With Sky Cape and Into Mischief continuing to press for the lead, Massive Drama went the half-mile in :44.38 to open up by about a half-length.
Sky Cape fell back coming off the turn, but Massive Drama had little time to relax. He was soon engaged on the outside by Into Mischief, who had crushed his rivals in his maiden debut on Santa Anita's Cushion Track Oct. 21. Massive Drama and Into Mischief, ridden by Victor Espinoza, battled for the lead through the lane as Meal Penalty, able to squirt through along the inside, tried to get involved as well. But Massive Drama had their measure in the final furlong. After opening up a two-length edge, he held sway over Into Mischief in the final strides under hand urging from Desormeaux. Meal Penalty, with Rafael Bejarano aboard, finished third, another 1 1/2 lengths behind.
"He's got that stride, that lovely, lengthy stride. He goes fast easy," said Desormeaux, who also rode Massive Drama in his debut. "His demeanor is unreal. He drags his feet to the gate but when that door opens he launches out of there. It didn't look like we were going that fast and that's telling to me of a good horse. I got back and looked at the clock and said 'no way.' He's got some great ability."
Clay and Mena Neel bred Massive Drama, a $485,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky buy in July 2006, in the Bluegrass State. The dark bay is out of Peyvon, by Slewacide. Baffert said earlier that he believes the colt will handle a route distance.
Massive Drama, who earned $69,200 for the victory to increase his earnings to $99,200, had been working in outstanding fashion on Santa Anita's Cushion Track. He owned a couple of bullet moves for his Southern California debut.
"He broke his maiden on the slop and there’s always that unknown when changing to a new surface," said John Daley, Baffert's assistant. "We’ve been training with him at Santa Anita but until you run him you don’t know. In the end he seemed like he was pretty confident. Right now there are no future plans, we’re going to wait to see how he comes out of this race and go from there."
The narrow second choice in the field of 11, Massive Drama paid $6.60, $3.40 and $3. Into Mischief, also making his second start for trainer Richard Mandella, returned $3.80 and $3 and completed a $2 exacta worth $20. Meal Penalty, two-for-two previously for trainer Todd Pletcher, was $3.40 to show.
Espinoza was pleased with the effort of the runner-up.
"He ran great for his second time out," he said. "He'll get better down the line. I believe when he goes two turns he'll really be something. It was a tough race for him today and he really ran hard. I thought I had it turning for home but that other horse was too much."
Bob Black Jack finished fourth, followed by Reel Prime, Red Hot Flame, Courageous Son, Drewthegentleman, Larrys Revenge, Sky Cape and Run Brother Ron. Spinning Sound and D. Double You scratched.