Irish-bred King's Drama, ridden confidently on the front end by Edgar Prado, ran to his 3-5 odds when pulling away in mid-stretch for an authoritative win in the $150,000 Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIT) on the Aqueduct turf course Saturday.
Winner of the Sword Dancer (gr. IT) at Saratoga this summer for trainer Bobby Frankel, King's Drama was coming off a disappointing eighth place finish in the Canadian International (Can-I) at Woodbine Oct. 23.
Plans call for King's Drama to go to the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) Nov. 27 - with Prado to ride.
"I think Bobby did the right thing, running him instead of working him for the Japan Cup," Prado said. "It worked out beautifully. He has something left in the tank. I don't think anyone could go by him today."
The 5-year-old King's Theatre gelding broke smartly for Prado and kept his pace steady in the 1 3/8-mile event as he was joined on the outside by Certifiably Crazy. They set fractions of :25, :49 3/5 and 1:14. After completing the mile in 1:39 2/5, Certifiably Crazy began to drop back, replaced by Dreadnaught, ridden by Jean-Luc Samyn, who challenged in the stretch. But King's Drama had plenty left and kicked away to a substantial advantage, with Prado staying busy to the wire to win by 2 1/2 lengths.
"This was a free grade two," Prado said. "A nice paid workout. I kept after him because he was looking around, looking at the board."
Rousing Victory, with Javier Castellano aboard, rallied for second after a wide trip, a length in front of Dreadnaught, with Certifiably Crazy following more than five lengths behind the winner. The final time was a solid 2:15 1/5.
King's Drama, owned by Gary Tanaka, earned $90,000 in his Aqueduct debut. It was the bay's eighth win in 25 lifetime starts, and he now boasts a bankroll of $869,916. He improved to 1-1-2 in four starts at 11 furlongs. The victory was King's Drama's third in five starts in 2005 and moved his earnings for the year over the $500,000 mark.
The winner paid $3.20, $2.40, and $2.10.
Rousing Victory, who ran third in Belmont's Knickerbocker (gr. IIIT) in his last start, returned $5.30 and $3.
Dreadnaught, who won last year's Red Smith by a nose over Certifiably Crazy, was $3.10 to show.
Certifiably Crazy was followed by Request for Parole, Rochester, Potro Tell, and Navesink River. Affirmative Action was scratched, while Evening Attire and Kennel Up were entered for the main track only.