06/21/2011 2:01PM

Calder: Fawkes says his best guess is Duke of Mischief dislikes Churchill Downs

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Mike Montgomery
Duke of Mischief, winner of the Charles Town Classic in April, handled 1 1/8 miles in that race but has difficulty running his best at Churchill Downs.

MIAMI – Duke of Mischief has returned home following his fourth-place finish in Saturday’s Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs. Duke of Mischief rallied steadily outside horses under Joe Bravo to gain a very brief and narrow lead between calls in early stretch before flattening out and finishing two lengths behind upset winner Pool Play.

“He came out of his race great and he’s already back here,” said trainer David Fawkes. “I talked it over with Bravo and he said the horse did everything you could have wanted him to do. He made the lead at the eighth pole but just couldn’t sustain his run, although he ran hard all the way to the wire.”

Fawkes said he has come to the conclusion Duke of Mischief just might not like the Churchill Downs strip.

“That’s the third time I’ve run him there and the best he’s finished is fourth,” said Fawkes. “I think the stretch just might be too long for him. I don’t think he minds a mile and one eighth. It just has to be over the right track.

In his previous start, Duke of Mischief won the nine-furlong, $1 million Charles Town Classic.

“I’m not sure what we’ll do next with him,” said Fawkes. “I might consider turning him back to a mile for the Iselin. I’m also tempted to try him on grass again but he’s doing so well right now I’m thinking if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Fawkes was also in action back last Saturday night at Charles Town, where his Little Drama finished fourth in the seven-furlong Red Legend Stakes.

“He acted up a bit in the gate and got floated around the first turn, which didn’t help him,” said Fawkes. “I don’t think he really ran around those turns and at that track you can’t win if you don’t run on the turns. But with all that he only got beat about a length for second.”

Fawkes will also unveil Little Drama’s full sister Queen Drama in Saturday’s second race. A daughter of Burning Roma, Queen Drama is also a half-sister to Eclipse Award winner Big Drama and like his siblings is owned by his breeder, Harold Queen.

“She’s doing good and I’m very excited about finally being able to run her on Saturday,” said Fawkes.

Action intensifies for 2-year-olds

Calder’s 2-year-old program will be in full swing on Saturday with three maiden special weight races for juveniles at distances ranging from 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 furlongs on the card. The first local stakes for 2-year-olds, the $100,000 Frank Gomez Memorial and its filly counterpart the J J’s Dream Stakes, are scheduled on the following Saturday.

Collazo feels stewards overly harsh on DQ

Trainer Henry Collazo has filed an appeal with track officials regarding the disqualification of his horse Battle of Love from first to third in last Sunday’s fourth race. Battle of Love was first across the wire followed by Catch That Kitten and My Precious Baby but after a lengthy deliberation that took nearly a half-hour, the stewards disqualified both Battle of Love and Catch That Kitten for interference in late stretch, elevating My Precious Baby from third to first while also dropping Battle of Love from first to third behind Catch That Kitten.

“After taking a day to let my temper die down and reviewing the race again, I’ve come to the conclusion that the stewards had every right to disqualify my horse from first,” said Collazo. “But I cannot see the reasoning behind them placing him third behind the one horse [Catch That Kitten] and that is the basis for the appeal.”

Collazo is also excited about the prospects of running Tannersville in Saturday’s main event, the $55,000 Mecke Stakes. Tannersville has not started since finishing third in the Carterista Stakes on closing day at Gulfstream Park. He has trained forwardly ever since that outing over the main track. Tannersville won the Calder Derby here last fall when outgaming the recently Grade 1-placed Bim Bam by a nose following a hard stretch battle.

“I’m planning to run him whether the race goes on the grass or comes off,” said Collazo. “In fact the way he’s been training on the dirt I’m almost looking forward to having the race moving to the main track. He ran well over it breaking his maiden and if he were to do so again it could open another dimension for him the rest of the year.”

◗ A full field of 12 was entered for the 1 1/8-mile Mecke, led by Motovato and Mambo Meister, first- and second-place finishers over the main track in the Memorial Day Handicap, along with John Johny Jak, who has won his last two starts, including the Carterista for trainer Gilberto Zerpa. Motovato, who will likely run only if the race does move to the main track, worked a half-mile in :50.40 seconds here Tuesday.