03/18/2009 11:00PM

Big Drama should be ready for Swale

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Big Drama won't run next Saturday in the Florida Derby. But there's a good chance the once-beaten 3-year-old may still compete on Florida Derby Day in the Grade 2 Swale Stakes at seven furlongs.

Big Drama, who all but sewed up a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby with his victory in the Delta Jackpot in his 2-year-old finale, suffered a minor leg injury earlier this winter that for all intents and purposes precluded any attempt to make the Derby. Trainer David Fawkes backed off on Big Drama's training to allow the injury to heal sufficiently, and says his star is doing just fine at the moment.

"We skipped the one work a couple of weeks ago, but he came back to work a bullet five furlongs last Sunday and is doing fine," said Fawkes. "We'll just keep moving forward with him, and if he's ready for the Swale, he'll run. If not we'll wait another week and send him to Tampa for a statebred stakes they have up there the following weekend. It all depends on timing right now."

Even if Big Drama misses the Swale, Fawkes will have a chance to win a Grade 2 race next week when he sends out the undefeated and untested Gatorette against Justwhistledixie in Friday's $200,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes. Gatorette, a 3-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor, cruised to easy victories in her two starts but will be making both her stakes debut and first try beyond 7 1/2 furlongs in the 1 1/8-mile Bonnie Miss.

"Obviously, Justwhistledixie is the horse to beat, and what concerns me most is the fact that she and my filly have similar running styles, and ultimately that could hurt both of us," said Fawkes. "But I think our filly has enough talent to run with those type of horses, and I don't see a mile and one-eighth as a problem for her. Not after watching her last performance."

Gatorette has not breezed since winning an entry-level allowance on March 8, and Fawkes said he might not work her before the Bonnie Miss.

"She's doing well and I do not have her scheduled for a workout at the moment," said Fawkes.

The small field for the Bonnie Miss could also include Casanova Move, Striking Dancer, Hopeful Image, and Renda.

Don't Forget Gil puts it all together

Don't Forget Gil, a New York-bred daughter of Kafwain, is among the 11 3-year-old fillies nominated for the Bonnie Miss, but will obviously pass that spot after having shipped to Tampa last Saturday to dominate the Grade 3 Florida Oaks for trainer Mark Hennig.

"She's really a neat filly and I think she's going to keep improving," Hennig said. "She was a pretty hyped filly early on, but she's just now getting the idea of what she's doing out there. She had all kinds of problems in her previous start at Tampa, but came out of that race wanting more action, and she really showed it on Saturday."

Hennig said he has nothing picked out for Don't Forget Gil's next start.

Captain Rio opts for allowance

A small field is also all but assured for the Swale, which attracted 16 nominations. Among them is the undefeated Captain Rio, who will take a more conservative route and compete under entry-level allowance conditions in Saturday's first race.

Captain Rio earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure winning his career debut by 1 3/4 lengths going six furlongs here on Jan. 31. His main competition on Saturday should come from Checklist, who was a similarly impressive debut winner earlier in the meet. Four weeks later he finished a distant fifth as a 3-5 favorite under entry-level allowance conditions after stumbling leaving the gate.

"He twisted a shoe when he stumbled," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Checklist for the Starlight Partners. "And he'd have been better off tearing it off altogether than having to run with it like that."

Racing secretary Doug Bredar has put together a stellar card for Saturday. In addition to the Captain Rio-Checklist matchup in the opener, and the featured Grade 3 Pan American, it includes five other allowance races. Among them is a high-priced optional claimer carded at 1 1/16 miles on the turf that features Grade 3 stakes winners Sporting Art and Nistle's Crunch.

This Ones for Phil out indefinitely

This Ones for Phil, who is also nominated to the Swale, will be out of action indefinitely after injuring himself when getting cast in his stall last week, according to trainer Rick Dutrow. This Ones for Phil earned the highest Beyer Speed Figure by any 3-year-old in the country, a 116, for his victory in the Sunshine Millions Dash earlier in the meet, but finished a tiring fifth behind Quality Road in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth.

"He injured his pastern when he got cast in the stall and has some filling in his back leg," Dutrow said. "We'll just have to wait until it heals before getting him back to the track to gallop and work again."

The Roundhouse looking good

The Roundhouse, who finished second in a pair of Grade 2 races at age 2 before having his career put on hold due to a saucer fracture, gave every indication on Thursday that he could return to that level again. The Roundhouse rallied from far back over a sloppy track to register an impressive victory over the even-money Le Grand Cru in the featured seventh race.

"I got a little nervous when he dropped so far back like that, and considering the conditions I thought it was a pretty impressive effort," said Pletcher, his trainer. "I'm not 100 percent sure he's the type who'll come from far behind like that going a little distance, but he's versatile enough where I think he can do anything."

Edgar Prado rode The Roundhouse, whose victory put Pletcher in a dead heat for the top spot in the trainer standings with Ken McPeek.