12/29/2008 1:00AM

Big Drama will stay in comfort zone at Calder


MIAMI - The richest 3-year-old stabled in south Florida, at least through the majority of the winter season, will not be training at Gulfstream Park, Payson Park, or even at Palm Meadows, which has nurtured the last three Kentucky Derby winners. The richest 3-year-old currently in the area is Big Drama and he will spend the winter where he has spent the rest of his career on the racetrack: at Calder Race Course.

Big Drama banked $860,250 at 2, the majority of that swag coming for his one-length victory over West Side Bernie in the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot. Big Drama also swept all three legs of the open division of the Florida Stallion Stakes during a juvenile campaign which saw him capture 5 of 6 starts.

Big Drama had his first work since the Delta Jackpot on Sunday morning at Calder, where he breezed a half-mile in 49.60 seconds.

"He went easily and came back fine," said David Fawkes, who trains the homebred Big Drama for owner Harold Queen. "He went back to the track again Monday and galloped well."

Fawkes has stalls this winter at both Calder and Gulfstream, but said he's content keeping Big Drama right where he has been all along.

"It's safe and quiet over there and most important he really likes the track at Calder," Fawkes said. "Right now it doesn't make much sense to change anything with him."

Fawkes said he and his owner have not devised any definite plans for Big Drama's winter campaign other than to say, "We'll find a race at Gulfstream for him next."

The most logical options for Big Drama's next start would be the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Jan. 31 or the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth going a mile on Feb. 28. The big prize at Gulfstream, as it is every winter, is the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 28.

Calder will also be the winter home of several other runners eyeing important stakes during the Gulfstream meet, including graded stakes winners Smooth Air and Delightful Kiss. They could end up squaring off against one another next month in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic.

Smooth Air, who was given a month off following his seventh-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic, continued preparations for his return by working five furlongs in 1:01.60 at Calder on Sunday.

The Calder-based pair of Frolic's Dream and You Luckie Mann both worked Monday morning for their upcoming assignments opening weekend at Gulfstream. The undefeated Frolic's Dream was the first of trainer Marty Wolfson's fleet 2-year-olds to go, breezing a half-mile in 48.80 before the renovation break.

His stablemate You Luckie Mann followed about an hour later, covering the same distance in 48.20.

Frolic's Dream figures to go off the favorite in Sunday's Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes while You Luckie Mann will be among the choices in Saturday's Spectacular Bid Stakes.

Trainer race down to the wire

The race for training honors during the Tropical at Calder meeting figures to go right down to closing day on Friday. The battle is between five-time Tropical champion Bill White and three-time champion Eddie Plesa Jr.

White won two races Saturday and one each on Sunday and Monday to go one up in the standings with three days remaining in the meet. That could all change when racing resumes on Wednesday with Plesa having five horses entered on the card, including First Is Best in the featured eighth race, while White counters with only a single starter on the nine-race program.P

No serious injuries in training accident

Exercise rider Kevin Willey and his mount, Hunting, escaped serious injury Monday morning in a training accident at Gulfstream.

Hunting, a 5-year-old gelding trained by Shug McGaughey, was nearing the finish of a breeze when a horse trained by Nick Zito moved into his path at about the eighth pole, making contact with him and causing him to fall. McGaughey said later that Willey had been transported to a nearby hospital, where X-rays were negative, and that Hunting "somehow had only superficial cuts. He's fine."

Neither the horse nor rider for Zito was seriously hurt.

Willey, 47, has exercised horses for 33 years and has worked for numerous top trainers, including Pat Byrne and Todd Pletcher.

Hunting, bred and owned by Stuart Janney III, has won 5 of 18 starts and $271,149, with the 2007 Stuyvesant Handicap marking his biggest win.

- additional reporting by Marty McGee