Big Drama skipped the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, instead racking up four straight wins racing at his home base in south Florida. So when he faced off against nine rivals, including three Breeders' Cup competitors, in Friday night's $750,000 Boyd's Gaming Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs, he was a bit of an unknown factor.
By the time he crossed the wire first, 1 length ahead of West Side Bernie, his credentials were substantially more impressive. The Florida-bred Montbrook colt also established a stakes record for the event, finishing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.72.
Stimulus Plan came from last to finish third. Terrain, fourth in the Breeders' Cup and Friday's favorite, finished fifth after chasing a quick early pace.
David Fawkes trains Big Drama and Eibar Coa had the mount. Fawkes said the colt will return to Calder, where he will plot his next move.
In the companion $300,000 Boyd Gaming's Delta Princess, Powered by Youbet.com, Four Gifts picked up her third career victory, rallying down the stretch to take the lead and win by 2 1/4 lengths. The favorite, C.S. Silk, got first run at the leaders and held a slim advantage in the stretch but couldn't hold off the winner. Smokin Again got home third.
Four Gifts, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Even the Score, got the 1 mile in 1:38.71 with Shaun Bridgmohan aboard.
In other weekend racing:
Local runners dominated Sunday's Japan Cup Dirt, as they did the Japan Cup itself a week earlier. Kane Hekili, the 2005 winner, rebounded from a long injury layoff to win by a head over Meisho Tokon. Vermillion, a Japanese-based international runner, was third. Jockey Christophe Lemaire kept Kane Hekili in mid-pack until the final turn. He then made the lead and was all out in the final yards to preserve the victory. Casino Drive, who suffered his first defeat in the Breeders' Cup in October, returned to a real dirt track but was able to do no better than a fifth-place finish. The U.S. runners, Frost Giant and Tin Cup Chalice, finished 12th and 13th, respectively. The Bobby Frankel-trained Mast Track was a late scratch with a sore shoulder. Tin Cup Chalice's rider, Edgar Prado, said he was forced to vie for the lead because no one else wanted to go. "He had only raced against 3-year-olds before, so this is just a beginning for him," Prado said. Frost Giant's rider, Cornelio Velasquez, said his mount was jumpy from the time he was saddled and never settled down. "I was unable to control him throughout the race," Velasquez said.
Dec. 12, Sha Tin hosts the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races – four Group 1 events that will shape the year's international honors in the various divisions.
Champs Elysees returned to the turf in Saturday's $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup after an unsuccessful effort in the Breeders' Cup Classic and again demonstrated his ability on the green. After tracking the pace and saving ground to the final turn, the 5-year-old, British-bred son of Danehill came out for running room and edged clear to win by 1/2 length over Obrigado. Church Service finished third. Champs Elysees, with Jose Valdivia Jr. in the irons, ran the 1 1/2 miles on firm going in 2:27.71. Winning trainer Bobby Frankel said the surface change wasn't as important as other factors. "He likes each surface equally," Frankel said. "He got sick in the middle of the summer so I think that's why he had those two bad races, but he was really going into this race really well. I told Jose to try and make him break good, but don't worry about rushing him or anything."
Slew's Tizzy stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Native Diver Handicap, got a head in front midway down the stretch and finally got clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Past the Point. Ball Four was third. Slew's Tizzy, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Tiznow, ran the 9 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:46.78 under Joel Rosario. It was also a redemption for Slew's Tizzy after an 11th place finish in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. In that race, Rosario said, "I got bumped real hard by the horses inside me and outside me. My horse wanted to go, but it was a big field and they were going real fast. Today he was much more relaxed and more confident. It's harder to race between horses because you're under pressure the whole time, but he handled it great."
Briecat was first out of the gate in Sunday's $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap for fillies and mares and extended the advantage to win by 2 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Model. Wake Up Maggie finished third. Briecat, a 3-year-old, Florida-bred filly by Adcat, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:40.38 under Jon Court.
Rolling Sea rolled down the stretch in Friday night's $100,000 Treasure Chest Stakes for fillies and mares, besting Unforgotten to win by a head. Zarb's Ballerina contested the pace and held on for third. Rolling Sea, a 5-year-old, Illinois-bred mare by Sefapiano, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:39.30 with Shaun Bridgmohan up for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Acting Zippy advanced between horses in the stretch run of Friday night's $100,000 Delta Mile and was up at the wire to win by a neck over Smokeyjonessutton. Missed the Prom was third and the favorite, Forty Grams, faded to finish fourth. Acting Zippy, a 3-year-old, Florida-bred City Zip gelding, ran 1 mile in 1:39.38. Shane Laviolette rode for trainer William Bennett.
Golden Yank sat off the pace early in Saturday's $158,730 Zia Park Derby, then took total command in the stretch, drawing off at will to win by 6 3/4 lengths. Por Que was second with Numismatist third. Golden Yank, a Kentucky-bred Yankee Gentleman colt, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43 with Jamie Theriot in the irons.
Lefty Who surged to the lead at the top of the lane in Sunday's $129,845 New Mexico Eddy County Stakes for state-bred 2-year-olds, then held on at the end to win by a neck over Spring to Teras. Double Smart finished third. Left Who, a gelded son of Quinton's Gold, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:38 3/5 with Carlos Madeira riding.
Song of Navarone rallied from well back to win Sunday's $208,730 Zia Park Distance Championship by 3 lengths over One Lucky Buck. Tricky Causeway finished third. Song of Navarone is a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Sultry Song out of the Navarone mare Timely Legend. Antonio Castanon rode for trainer Henry Dominguez.
Patena caught up with pace-setting Hooh Why early in the stretch run in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Display Stakes for 2-year-olds. The pair battled to the wire, with Patena prevailing by a head. Red Leader was well back in third. Patena, a Kentucky-bred colt by Seeking the Gold from the A.P. Indy mare Handpainted, got the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:44.72. Robert Landry had the mount for trainer Josie Carroll. Carroll, who also trained Handpainted, said the dam and colt show similarities. "This horse is going to take a little time," Carroll added. "The owners let me take as much time between races and it's certainly paid off."
Sunday's card – the final day of the live Thoroughbred meet – was canceled after the second race due to cold weather. Among the races lost was the $150,000 (Canadian) Valedictory at 1 3/4 miles on the main track.
Calder Race Course
Spice Route was reserved early in Saturday's $100,000 Tropical Turf Handicap, worked to the lead late in the stretch drive and just prevailed by a nose over the favorite, Soldier's Dancer. A.P. Magic was third. Spice Route, a 4-year-old, British-bred gelding by King's Best, ran the 1 1/8 miles on firm turf in 1:48.41 with Javier Castellano up for trainer Roger Attfield. "He was turning back in distance from the longer races in Canada," Attfield noted. "But I wasn't concerned. I've always thought he could be a good miler."
Wild Promises led from gate to wire in Saturday's $100,000 My Charmer Handicap for fillies and mares, winning by 1 length over Callwood Dancer. Rutherienne was third as the favorite. Wild Promises, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred filly by Wild Event out of the Frosty the Snowman mare Frosty Promise, got the 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:47.78 with Aaron Gryder riding. Winning traine Greg Gilchrist said he had "pretty much kept her protected racing at home (Northern California) until now, but I felt that she had earned a chance to go on to bigger things, and Calder has always been good to us in the past." He said he hopes to come back to Gulfstream Park Jan. 24 for the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf.
Hawthorne Race Course
Ava Mae came five-wide into the stretch in Saturday's $100,000 Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, got to the lead and drew off to win by 2 lengths over Winpins. Happy Henrietta finished third. The favorite, Lose None, led much of the way but faded to finish sixth. Ava Mae, a daughter of Best of Luck, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:45.40. Jose Ferrer rode for trainer Michele Boyce.
Haynesfield led from gate to wire in Sunday's $75,000 Damon Runyon Stakes for New York-bred 2-year-olds, winning by 5 1/4 lengths over Fiddlers Afleet. Legal Consent was third. Haynesfield, a chestnut son of Speightstown, got the 1 mile and 70 yards on the inner track in 1:42.95. Ramon Dominguez rode for trainer Steve Asmussen's barn.
Don't Forget Gil stalked the pace in Sunday's $75,000 East View Stakes for state-bred 2-year-old fillies, got the lead turning for home and won by a comfortable 3 3/4 lengths over the favorite, Submerge. Soave was third. Don't Forget Gil, a daughter of Kafwain, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:46.34 after closing into a glacial pace. Rajiv Maragh had the mount for trainer Mark Hennig.
Golden Gate Fields
Lady Railrider, despite her name, raced four-wide down the backstretch in Saturday's $75,000 Pacific Heights Stakes for Cal-bred fillies and mares. She then came four-wide around the turn to get to the lead and won off by 2 lengths despite lugging in during the final sixteenth. With Frank Alvarado riding, the 3-year-old Ride the Rails filly got the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:43.82.
Six 3-year-old fillies hit the wire less than 1 length apart in Saturday's $60,000 Pago Hop Stakes, with Love to Tell a head in front in the photo. Scolara was second, a head in front of the dead-heat pair of Apple Martini and My Baby Baby. It was just another head back to the favorite, Mizzcan'tbewrong, who was a neck better than Rose of Killarney. Love to Tell, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Stage Colony, ran the "about" 1 mile on the firm turf in 1:40.44 after stalking the early pace. Francisco Torres had the mount. "This was a big win for me," said winning trainer Mike Burgess, who claimed the filly for $16,000 in January at Fair Grounds. "After claiming her as a maiden, I've now won three stakes with her."
Glorious Smile set a pressured pace in Saturday's $75,000 Eavesdrop Stakes for 2-year-old, Pennsylvania-bred fillies, then held on at the end to win by 3/4 length over Blank Invitation. Lady Kristi was third. Glorious Smile, a bay daughter of Honour and Glory, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:26.45 with Jose Flores riding.
St John's Gospel closed religiously through the stretch run in Saturday's $75,000 Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes for state-bred 2-year-olds, then won going away, by 2 3/4 lengths over odds-on favorite Officer Ipod. Count the Gold finished third. St John's Gospel, a son of Activist out of St Johns Prospect, finished the 7 furlongs in 1:24.87 under Hector Ramos.
Kiss With a Twist bobbled at the start in Saturday's $50,000 My Charmer Stakes for fillies and mares, then was forced to work through horses to get to the lead in the stretch. Despite the added tasks, the 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Lemon Drop Kid filly got the job done, beating Cryptoquip by 2 1/4 lengths. Lauren's Tizzy was third. Kiss With a Twist, under Miguel Mena, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:47.52.
Tizfiz got the jump on the field in Saturday's $50,000 Queen of the Green Handicap for fillies and mares, then held on at the end to win by 1/2 length over the favorite, Ransom Captive. Star of Whitney finished third. Tizfiz, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bre Tiznow filly, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:36.01 under Agapito Delgadillo.
Highland Games rallied in the stretch to win Saturday's $50,000 Hank Mills Sr. Handicap by 1/2 length over Bingham. Nosir was third. Highland Games, a 5-year-old, California-bred gelding by Game Plan, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:35.02 with Miguel Hernandez riding.
Waco Hug rallied from far back to win Saturday night's $75,000 Star of Texas Stakes by 3/4 length over Taksent. Sandburr finished third. With Jose Figueroa up, the 3-year-old Waco Connection gelding finished in 1:48.14. The 9-furlong, main-track test highlighted a program of eight stakes for Texas-breds. The others were for $50,000 each.
Rapid Squall rallied late to win the 9-furlong Richard King stakes on the grass by 1 length over Ablaze With Spirit. Eguard Tejera rode as the 3-year-old River Squall gelding covered the distance in 1:51.44.
Valid Stripes posted a dominating upset in the Groovy Stakes for 2-year-old, drawing clear in the stretch to win by 11 lengths over the favorite, He's Boy Wonder. At odds of 16-1, the Valid Expectations gelding covered the 7 furlongs in 1:23.94 under Tejera.
Pretty Squall led from gate to wire in the San Jacinto Stakes for distaffers on the grass, winning by 3 1/4 lengths over Little Axe Leoletta. The 4-year-old River Squall filly ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm going in 1:44.77 with Luis Quinonez in the irons.
Tiffany Royal stalked the pace, then went to the lead and drew off in the Bara Lass Stakes for juvenile fillies, winning by 3 1/2 lengths over Valid Code. Tiffany Royal, a daughter of Seneca Jones, ran the 7 furlongs with Quinonez riding in 1:25.96.
Taptam drafted behind pace-setter Formal Flyer until late in the Martanza Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 mile on the dirt, then went by and scored by 1/2 length. Taptam, a 3-year-old Pleasant Tap filly, completed the distance in 1:40.76.
Seneca Summer waited off the pace in the 6-furlong Spirit of Texas Stakes at 6 furlongs, then got the lead late and won by 3/4 length over pace-setting favorite Struck By. Seneca Summer, a 7-year-old Seneca Jones gelding, was clocked in 1:11.04 under Tejera.
Stealth Cat led from gate to wire in the Yellow Rose Stakes for distaffers at 6 furlongs, winning by 12 1/2 lengths as the odds-on favorite. Moneyinmywranglers finished second. Stealth Cat, a 4-year-old Magic Cat filly, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:11.31 with Quinonez aboard.