Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fawkes Stable Basking in Glory; Derby Trial Hits High Gear in Holy Bull

A celebratory atmosphere lingered at trainer David Fawkes’ stable Wednesday morning in the aftermath of two exciting triumphs by Big Drama.

After setting a Gulfstream Park track record while winning the Mr. Prospector Stakes on Saturday, Big Drama was crowned 2010 champion sprinter Monday evening at the Eclipse Awards Dinner at the Fontainebleau.
Fawkes had expressed his desire to see Big Drama win the Eclipse Award, because breeder/owner Harold Queen and his 5-year-old Florida-bred were so deserving, but the Calder Race Course-based trainer admitted to gaining considerable personal satisfaction from the honor.

“People with the better horses see that. It’s a big feather in our stable’s cap. I have a good staff. Everybody works hard, especially Donny,” said Fawkes, referring to assistant Don Stetler. “Everyone works hard; everyone works together; it’s teamwork.”

Big Drama’s success is also a family affair for Fawkes, whose wife, Celia, exercises Big Drama, who has become much more than an Eclipse Award-winning Thoroughbred.

“He’s a family member. He’s one of our kids. He’s a pleasure,” said Celia, who also gallops Duke of Mischief, who is being pointed toward the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Jan. 29. “They all have personalities. Our horses don’t have stall numbers; they have names.”

Big Drama, who ran six furlongs in 1:08.12 to kick off his 2011 campaign with a four-length victory in the Mr. Prospector, capped his 2010 championship season with a triumph in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint to earn the Eclipse nod over fellow finalists Majesticperfection and Smiling Tiger.

Todd Pletcher, who topped the 2010 Gulfstream Park trainer standings, was took home the Eclipse Award as last year’s outstanding trainer Monday evening. He prevailed in the voting over finalists Bob Baffert and John Shirreffs.

Pletcher, who collected his fifth Eclipse Award for training, saddled Eskendereya to victory in the Fountain of Youth and Quality Road for a track-record romp in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream last year.

Pletcher, whose runners earned more than $23 million in purses, saddled 14 Grade 1 winners, including Super Saver, his first Kentucky Derby winner.

The Eclipse Award for outstanding breeder went to Adena Springs, the Florida and Kentucky breeding operation of Frank Stronach, the founder and chairman of MI Developments, Inc., the parent company of Gulfstream Park.

It is the seventh Eclipse Award won by Adena Springs, whose horses earned more than $12.8 million in purses and won 480 races.

Stronach has been honored with four Eclipse Awards as an owner.

Derby Trail Hits High Gear in Holy Bull

The most important race early in the season for 3-year-olds of 2011 on the road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Triple Crown races in the spring appears likely to be the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park on Sun., Jan. 30, a highlight of the biggest weekend of the meet so far.

Leading the list of nominees and possible starters for the one-mile Holy Bull are Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and partners’ Mucho Macho Man, Our Sugar Bear Stable’s Gourmet Dinner, Zayat Stable’s Black N Beauty and Jay Em Ess Stable and partners’ Boys At Tosconova.

While the Holy Bull will launch a new campaign for colts and geldings leading to the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) here on Sun., Apr. 3 and Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, several of the leading 3-year-olds fillies of this crop can get their new campaigns started in the $200,000 Forward Gal Stakes (G2) at seven furlongs the same afternoon.

Prominent among the nominees are John Oxley’s Dancinginherdreams and E. Paul Robsham Stable’s R Heat Lightning. Dancinginherdreams is a roan/gray daughter of Tapit and flashed brilliance winning both of her starts in Kentucky in the fall, including the Pocahontas Stakes (G2) by 5 ¼ lengths at Churchill Downs on Oct. 31 for trainer John Ward.

R Heat Lightning is a Florida homebred daughter of Trippi trained by Todd Pletcher and won the prestigious Spinaway Stakes (G1) at Saratoga by four lengths in early September and finished second in both the Frizette Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park in October and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill Downs last out on Nov. 5.

The Holy Bull and Forward Gal on Sunday will follow another big afternoon on the Gulfstream stakes schedule with the three Sunshine Millions races to be run on Sat., Jan. 29, highlighted by the $500,000 Classic with leading candidates expected to include Donald Dizney’s First Dude, JoAnn and Alex Lieblong and partners’ Duke of Mischief and Oxbow Racing’s Birdrun.

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