Preakness Stakes Profile: Big Drama
by Trevor Whenham - 05/08/2009
Last race: Big Drama had a good day last time out in the Swale Stakes, but it was almost a great day. He crossed the finish line first in a track-record time for seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park, but he was disqualified and dropped to second for interfering with eventual winner This Ones For Phil in the stretch. Though a frustrating setback, it was still an impressive performance for a horse that had missed almost three months recovering from an injury caused by an accident in his stall.
Career highlights: Big Drama was riding a five-race winning streak coming into the Swale. That included a sweep of all three legs of the Florida Stallion Stakes for two year olds, and a win in his stakes debut in the Delta Jackpot over Derby entrant West Side Bernie. Though his last race in the Swale was a sprint, his two wins before that were at a mile and a sixteenth and he handled both easily, so the Preakness distance shouldn't be a problem.
Jockey: John Velazquez. Eibar Coa has been aboard for Big Drama's last two races, but he's committed to Musket Man for the Preakness as he was in the Derby when he finished third. Velazquez is available because his Derby mount, Mr. Hot Stuff, isn't moving forward to Baltimore. He was on that horse after his previous Derby hope, potential favorite Quality Road, had been forced to scratch a week before the Derby. Velazquez has won just one Triple Crown race - the 2007 Belmont aboard Rags To Riches - but he has been among the country's elite jockeys for more than a decade, piling up an impressive string of meet titles and stakes races. Big Drama won't suffer for the absence of Coa.
Trainer: David Fawkes. Fawkes is a former jockey that trains primarily out of Florida with an occasional presence in New York. He's been training on his own for more than a decade, and has had some minor stakes success. He's on the record as saying that Big Drama is already the best horse he has handled. He's understandably optimistic about what the future holds for this horse.
Breeding: Big Drama has the least Triple Crown experience in his pedigree of any confirmed runner in the Preakness this year. No horse in the first three generations of his lineage has Triple Crown experience. Buckpasser, his great-grandsire, came closest - he missed the Triple Crown races in 1966 with a foot injury but was the dominant three year old the rest of the year and was named Horse of the Year. Kauai King was a weak Derby winner that year, so Buckpasser would at least have been favored in the Derby if he had run.
Running style: There is a good chance that Big Drama will look to win from the lead. Last time out in the Swale he led throughout, setting a fairly rapid pace and still being able to hold on at the end. This is a longer race, but he seems to have the stamina and mentality to set the pace successfully.
Preakness prognosis: This one is tough. I really wish the horse hadn't been injured, because I think he could have been something impressive. That's not to say that he won't be now, but it's hard to know what he has to offer having raced just seven furlongs all year. Ultimately, my feelings about this horse will come down to the price he goes off at. At 15/1 or better he'd be worth a long look, but at 6/1 he'd be very easy to look past.