07/15/2011 4:14PM

Calder: Big Drama gearing up for return, heading back to track

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Justin N. Lane
Big Drama will join David Fawkes's barn at Calder next week to begin work toward a defense of his Breeders' Cup Sprint title.

MIAMI – Trainer David Fawkes is on the road for Saratoga this weekend, where he’ll spend most of the summer overseeing the 28 horses he’ll have stabled at the Spa during the upcoming meet. But the first stop Fawkes made on the way up to New York was in Ocala on Friday morning to visit an old friend, Big Drama, the reigning Breeders’ Cup Sprint and Eclipse Award winner who has spent the last several months at the farm of his owner-breeder, Harold Queen.

“He looks great,” Fawkes said. “He didn’t really breeze this morning, but he went along at a strong two-minute lick and ran a bit the last eighth of a mile. It wasn’t really a timed work, but he was stretching out at the end and looked fabulous.”

Fawkes conferred with Queen after watching Big Drama train Friday, after which the pair agreed on the next course of action for their champion sprinter.

“My assistant will pick Big Drama up on Wednesday and bring him down to Calder,” Fawkes said. “He’ll spend about 30 days there, after which we’ll start looking for a race. The other option was to send him right to Saratoga, but we decided he’s familiar with Calder and has done his best training there, so it’s probably the best place to get him started going again.”

Big Drama has raced just once since his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, setting a new six-furlong track record winning Gulfstream Park’s Grade 3 Mr. Prospector by four lengths Jan. 15.

“He just needed a break, now we’ll get him back and hopefully have him ready to defend his title in the Sprint this fall,” Fawkes said.

Fawkes said among the horses he plans to ship to Saratoga in the near future is his Grade 1-placed Apriority, runner-up in the Carter Handicap during the spring. Apriority, who also dropped a heartbreaking nose decision to Aikenite in the Churchill Downs Stakes in his last start, was scratched last Saturday morning from the Grade 2 Smile Sprint due to a foot abscess.

“Hopefully, we’ll get the abscess cleared up quickly, get him up to New York, and have him ready for the Vanderbilt,” Fawkes said.

The six-furlong, Grade 1 Vanderbilt will be run Aug. 7.

Meanwhile, Big Drama’s baby sister Queen Drama will make her second career start in Sunday’s first race, a six-furlong maiden special weight dash for 2-year-old fillies. Queen Drama finished second as the even-money favorite when launching her career here June 25.

Gleaves set for Spa wedding

Trainer Phil Gleaves also will be at Saratoga the first week of August. Not to run a horse, but to be married. Gleaves, who trains the multiple graded stakes winner Mambo Meister, will be wed to Amy Dunham, whose father is trainer Bob Dunham, a mainstay on the New York circuit for many years.

Meanwhile, Gleaves reported that Mambo Meister is currently getting a little break during the summer, with his next immediate goal the $75,000 Darn That Alarm Stakes on Labor Day.

Gordon resigns as HBPA president

Sam Gordon, who has served as president of the Florida Division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association for the last 6 1/2 years, handed in his letter of resignation at the board of directors monthly meeting Thursday.

Gordon said he was resigning for “personal reasons” in his letter and offered no further explanation for the surprise announcement.

Vice President Phil Combest will fill Gordon’s position as president.

“Sam provided the FHBPA with outstanding leadership during an extremely critical period in our history,” Combest said. “Speaking on behalf of the board of directors and our entire membership, we’re all sorry to see Sam go and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Other changes in the FHBPA hierarchy as a result of Gordon’s resignation include trainer Barry Rose becoming first vice president and owner Teresa Palmer second vice president. Owner Chester Bishop will fill out the remainder of Gordon’s term on the board.

◗ Jockey Abad Cabassa, who has ridden sparingly over the past several months due to personal reasons, reports he is ready to return to action on a regular basis. His book will be handled by Angel Burgos.