06/07/2010 11:00PM

Big weekend for Fawkes on two fronts


MIAMI - Trainer David Fawkes arrived at Churchill Downs early Tuesday morning with his Grade 2 winner Duke of Mischief, who will be among the top contenders in Saturday's Grade 1 Stephen Foster.

But the Foster is not the only big race for the Fawkes stable on Saturday. Back home at Calder, Fawkes will send out graded stakes winner Big Drama for his much-anticipated 2010 debut in the Ponche Handicap. Several hours earlier, baby brother Little Drama makes his career debut here in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden special weight race for 2-year-olds.

Duke of Mischief is coming off the best race of his career, a 2 1/4-length victory over Win Willy in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap on April 3. Fawkes originally said he would not run Duke of Mischief in the Foster if Rachel Alexandra was heading in that direction, but ultimately opted to make the trip even without a firm decision coming from the Horse of the Year's camp regarding her status for the race.

"I did the numbers on the race and I thought we fit very well, even if Rachel does run going by the numbers she's run this year," Fawkes said. "I thought we were weighted really well, and if he can run back to his last race, he should be really tough."

Duke of Mischief earned a 107 Beyer Speed Figure for his victory at Oaklawn. The win was the second in three starts this year for the 4-year-old Duke of Mischief, who also captured Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Ft. Lauderdale. His lone loss came against Quality Road in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, in which he finished eighth. Eibar Coa will again take his regular seat aboard Duke of Mischief in the Foster.

"He was fairly close to the lead at Oaklawn, but he doesn't need to be that close if they're really hauling ass up front," Fawkes said. "I'll leave the strategy up to Eibar and let him see how the race plays out."

Fawkes also is very eager to get Big Drama back to the races in the Ponche, which will mark his first start since the Grade 1 King's Bishop last August at Saratoga. Big Drama won the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot at 2 and was disqualified for interference from an apparent triumph in the Grade 2 Swale in spring 2009 at Gulfstream Park. He has won 4 of 5 starts at Calder.

"Originally, I thought about running him last weekend in the True North, but that would have been a little too quick," Fawkes said. "Besides, we're pointing him for the Smile on the Summit of Speed card, so it will be good to give him a prep for the race over this track."

Under normal circumstances, Fawkes would have stayed at home with both Big Drama and Little Drama and sent his wife, Celia, to Churchill Downs on Saturday. She regularly travels with Duke of Mischief. But the ballet forced him to change his normal plans.

"My daughter is in a ballet recital on Sunday, and my wife needs to stay home to get her ready," Fawkes explained. "But I'll be able to catch a flight out of here Sunday morning and be back in time to see the ballet."

Ponche tops four-stakes card

The $65,000 Ponche drew a field of six and is the last of four stakes on Saturday's 13-race program. The others are the $85,000 Leave Me Alone for 3-year-old fillies, the $85,000 Unbridled for 3-year-olds, and the $65,000 U Can Do It for older fillies and mares. All four serve as preps for graded stakes on the June 10 Summit of Speed card.

Trainer Marty Wolfson has five of the eight entrants in the U Can Do It -- Saratoga Tango, Pious Ashley, Indy's Alexandra, First Passage, and Saintly Rose -- and he had four of them out to work Tuesday. Saratoga Tango turned in the fastest drill of the quartet, going a half-mile in 48.20 seconds from the gate. The others all breezed a half-mile from the pole, with Pious Ashley going in 49.20, Saintly Rose in 49.40, and Indy's Alexandra in an easy 51.20.

The only other members of the U Can Do It field are Golden Mystery, Zip Trick, and Don'ttalktome.

* Bim Bam and Musical Romance were the stars here last weekend, capturing the Lord Juban and Sweettrickydancer stakes, respectively. Bim Bam was all out to withstand Saint Jude to register his second stakes win of the season in the Lord Juban, while Musical Romance finished full of run along the hedge to best Regina Twain in the Sweettrickydancer.

* Defending champ Manoel Cruz and apprentice Luis Saez will begin Thursday dead-heated atop the jockey standings with 38 wins apiece in a race that has see-sawed back and forth since the meet began. Bill White and Steve DiMauro are deadlocked for the lead in the trainer standings with nine victories.