05/15/2013 11:35AM

Calder: Bahamian Squall eyes Ponche as Smile Sprint prep

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Barbara D. Livingston
Bahamian Squall is being pointed to the Grade 2 Smile Sprint, but will have a prep first.

MIAMI – Trainer David Fawkes used Calder’s Ponche Handicap and Grade 2 Smile Sprint to launch Big Drama’s championship campaign in 2010. Three years later, Fawkes is considering taking a similar path with his current sprint sensation Bahamian Squall, a 4-year-old homebred owned by Donald Dizney.

Bahamian Squall, a son of Gone West, is far less experienced and accomplished at this stage of his career than Big Drama was entering his 2010 season. Bahamian Squall owns only a single stakes victory in 10 starts, the restricted Sunshine State in his 3-year-old finale, but he is graded stakes placed and has shown enough promise in his brief career to give Fawkes reason to at least muse about taking another run at the sprint title.

Bahamian Squall recently returned to serious training after taking time off following his third-place finish behind Fort Loudon in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship on Feb. 9. Bahamian Squall worked five furlongs from the half-mile pole around to the seven-eighths pole in 1:00.29 here Sunday morning before galloping out six furlongs around the turn in 1:15.

“We backed off on him after the last race at Gulfstream, gave him a little break,” Fawkes said. “He had some minor aches and pains, so he just walked for 30 days before returning to light training. I thought this last work Sunday was very good. Right now, the plan is to give him one prep and then point for the Smile.”

Fawkes was a little less committal about where that prep might be.

“We could bring him back in the Ponche, just like we did a few years ago with Big Drama,” said Fawkes, referring to one of four Summit of Speed Preview Day stakes on June 8. “For the moment, that’s yet to be determined.”

Fawkes is hoping Bahamian Squall can fill the void in his barn left by the retirement of Duke of Mischief earlier this season. Duke of Mischief gave Fawkes a potent one-two punch along with Big Drama in 2010 and 2011, but proved ineffective in three starts this past winter at Gulfstream Park.

“We gave him some time after his second-place finish a year ago in the Charles Town Classic, and he just wasn’t the same horse when he came back off that layoff,” Fawkes said.

Duke of Mischief, a road warrior, won several important races early in his career, including the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap as well as Gulfstream’s Grade 3 Fort Lauderdale and Monmouth Park’s Grade 3 Iselin. But his richest, and perhaps most memorable, triumph came during spring 2011 when he easily defeated Game On Dude to capture the $1 million Charles Town Classic.

“He beat a lot of nice horses during his career, including both Game On Dude and Tizway,” Fawkes said. “He was also just a nice horse to train and to be around and he’s been dearly missed by everyone in the barn since he went to the farm.”

Fawkes said Duke of Mischief will begin his stallion career next season at the North West Stud Farm in Ocala, Fla.