03/07/2011 4:11PM

Apriority dazzles with 113 Beyer, near track record

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Big Drama is generally recognized as the fastest horse in the world, following his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and subsequent Eclipse Award as the champion sprinter in 2010. But there are some who might argue that, at the moment, Big Drama may not even be the fastest horse in his own barn.

That distinction could go to Apriority after the steadily improving son of Grand Slam came within .03 of a second of equaling the 6 1/2-furlong track record with his scintillating 4 1/2-length victory over Aikenite in Saturday’s eighth race. Apriority was on the lead after a 43.97-second opening half-mile, despite stumbling leaving the gate, and shaded 1:08 for his six-furlong split before completing the distance in 1:14.47.

Apriority has won four of his five starts since trainer David Fawkes switched the 4-year-old to dirt for the first time last fall at Calder. His lone loss during that span was a second-place finish in the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita, a race in which he was arguably best following a somewhat eventful trip.

Apriority, who had not posted a Beyer Speed Figure above 80 prior to joining Fawkes’s stable late last summer, earned a 113 for his near-record-setting performance Saturday. It was the third time he’s posted a triple-digit figure this year.

“Wow,” Fawkes exclaimed immediately after the race. “And he stumbled, too. He went 1:07 and change for six furlongs and still finished up.”

Fawkes said either the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct on April 9 or the Count Fleet at Oaklawn Park five days later could be next for his latest sprint star, with the latter his first preference at the moment.

“I’ll look over both races and pick the best spot for him,” Fawkes said. “Right now, I just want to keep him and Big Drama separated until the Breeders’ Cup, if all works out well, and our focus at the moment is Hot Springs. I don’t want to put his races too close together, and going to Oaklawn gives us five extra days.”

Fawkes reported that Big Drama, who set the six-furlong track standard here winning the Mr. Prospector in his 2011 debut, is back jogging and galloping again after being given some time off to recuperate from his record-setting performance.

“Looks like I’m going to have to change the oils and grease the wheels on the horse trailer this summer with these two in the barn,” Fawkes said.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Aikenite may run next in the Commonwealth at Keeneland.

Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor, said he thought Tahitian Warrior got a little more tired than he’d have thought coming off a four-month layoff.

“Julien [Leparoux] said he wants a slower pace and more ground,” Mettee said. “I’m not sure what we’ll do next, maybe we’ll be able to find one more race for him down here before we head back north.”

Winter Memories nearing return

Trainer Jim Toner, who sent out Much Rejoicing to an easy victory in Sunday’s ninth race, said Winter Memories is steadily getting legged up for her return. Winter Memories was given some time off after finishing second as the favorite in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

“She had a nice breeze the other day,” Toner said. “We just freshened her and gave her a break after the Breeders’ Cup, and she’s grown up, filled out, and really developed over the winter. Right now, I’m looking at the Appalachian at Keeneland for her first start back.”

Toner said he has no thoughts of trying Winter Memories, who has made all three career starts over he turf, on dirt this season.

“I’m going to stay with what she does best and what I do best, and that’s the grass,” Toner said.

Life At Ten sets sights on Rampart

Life At Ten, idle since being eased in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, worked an easy half-mile in 48.99 seconds and galloped out five-eighths in 1:02.70 at Palm Meadows on Sunday as she continues to prepare for her 2011 debut, which could come here in the Grade 3 Rampart on April 2.

“She’s doing well, and the Rampart is possible,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “We’ll just see how quickly she gets ready. The other option would be the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn.”

Stormy Publisher perfect in U.S.

Stormy Publisher remained unbeaten in three U.S. starts after outgaming D’wild Ride for a neck decision in Sunday’s $60,000 Ladies Turf Sprint. The race scratched down from 13 to eight starters when taken off the grass and moved to a sloppy main track following a mid-afternoon downpour.

The versatile Stormy Publisher began her career in her native Argentina before joining trainer Christophe Clement’s barn last fall. She added the Ladies Turf Sprint to earlier victories in Belmont Park’s grassy Glowing Honor and the Minaret over the main track at Tampa Bay Downs on New Year’s Day. Her total margin of victory for her three U.S. wins is less than a half-length.

Alan Garcia rode Stormy Publisher, who paid $6.60.