08/16/2011 1:35PM

Calder: Big Drama ready for some serious work

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Bob Coglianese
Big Drama is being pointed to a defense of his title in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

MIAMI – The nation’s sprint division is up for grabs at the moment. With Euroears’s big win over Smiling Tiger in the Bing Crosby and Sean Avery’s upset of Trappe Shot in the Vanderbilt, confusion reigns atop the leader board.

Meanwhile, Big Drama, the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and Eclipse Award champion, has been out of mind and pretty much out of sight.

Big Drama has raced just once since clinching division honors with his victory at Churchill Downs nearly 10 months ago in the BC Sprint. His lone start in 2011 was a record-setting victory in Gulfstream Park’s Mr. Prospector in mid-January.

Big Drama spent the majority of the spring and the early part of the summer at owner-breeder Harold Queen’s farm. He rejoined trainer David Fawkes’s stable at Calder less than a month ago and has gotten a couple of easy works under his belt over the past several weeks.

But now it’s time for the champ to start getting serious if he’s going to have any chance of defending his Breeders’ Cup title in November.

“We’ll start getting a little more serious with him in the next week or two,” Fawkes said before boarding a flight for Saratoga late Monday morning. “Right now, I’m hoping to get two races into him before the Breeders’ Cup.”

Fawkes said Big Drama’s pre-Breeders’ Cup goal is the Vosburgh at Belmont on Oct. 2, preceded by a prep race, perhaps the Icecapade at Monmouth on Sept. 5.

Big Drama is not the only BC Sprint candidate in Fawkes’s stable. He also has the Grade 1-placed Apriority, who finished fourth after pressing the pace into the stretch of the Vanderbilt. That was his first start since his heartbreaking nose setback at the hands of Aikenite in the Churchill Downs Sprint three months earlier. Apriority had missed some training time and a potential start here in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint due to an abscess in his left front foot.

“I thought he ran great in the Vanderbilt, considering the time he’d missed because of the injury,” Fawkes said. “I knew he’d need the race. He also lost the shoe that was on his injured left foot somewhere during the running of the Vanderbilt.”

Fawkes said he also is targeting the Vosburgh for Apriority’s next start.

Wet weather limits turf racing

Flatter This took advantage of the recent wet weather that forced turf racing to be canceled here all last week to capture his first race in nearly 13 months when outlasting the even-money Tannersville by a half-length to capture Saturday’s Band Is Passing overnight stakes. Flatter This is trained by Kathleen O’Connell for the Blackacre Farms Inc.

Hopefully, the weather will be better this weekend with a pair of stakes races scheduled on the turf here Saturday, the $75,000 Naked Greed for 3-year-olds and its filly counterpart, the $75,000 Crystal Rail. Both races are carded at 7 1/2 furlongs on the grass and drew full fields, in large part because of the uncertainty of the weather once again later this week.

Sixteen 3-year-olds were entered for the Naked Greed, 10 of whom have yet to win on turf including the multiple stakes winners Manicero and Decisive Moment.

Battle of Love, a versatile sort capable on either turf or dirt, tops the 11-horse field for the Crystal Rail. Battle of Love is coming off a convincing 3 1/4-length victory over the main track in the mile and 70-yard Three Ring on July 30. Callmethesqueeze, runner-up in the Three Ring and undefeated in two starts on grass, looms the main contender.

Nasty Rumor, among the other key players in the Crystal Rail, blew out an easy half-mile in 50.40 seconds for trainer Marty Wolfson early Tuesday morning.

Saez dominating rider standings

The race for leading rider has long been decided, with defending champion Luis Saez dominating the standings throughout the session. The only question that remains is whether Saez will exceed the 142 victories he posted to capture the 2010 title. Saez enters Thursday’s program with 110 tallies to date, with this year’s slightly abbreviated 2011 Calder session scheduled to end Sept. 30.

Antonio Sano also has all but wrapped up his first local training title, but the battle for second figures to go right down to the conclusion of the meet. Henry Collazo and Bisnath Parboo begin the week with 19 winners apiece, one more than Joe Calascibetta and Bill White.