03/29/2009 11:00PM

Despite DQ, Big Drama impresses


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The stewards' decision to disqualify Big Drama from first to second in last Saturday's Swale Stakes cost trainer David Fawkes and owner Harold Queen both a Grade 2 victory and the majority share of a $150,000 purse. But the afternoon wasn't a total loss. Big Drama's connections still came away with a track record and the satisfaction of knowing their colt should be a major player in the 3-year-old division.

Big Drama seemingly survived a stretch-long battle with This Ones for Phil to post a game half-length decision after covering seven furlongs in a Gulfstream Park record 1:20.88 under jockey Eibar Coa. Big Drama came out slightly to brush This Ones for Phil near the sixteenth pole, then drifted again to bump that rival more significantly in the final strides of the Swale. The decision could have gone either way, and Fawkes contended the final bumping incident came so close to the wire that it had no effect on the outcome.

"I don't dispute that my horse came out and bumped him," said Fawkes. "Eibar's stick appeared to get caught in the bridle and when he pulled it out it caused our horse to duck out like that. But as close as it was to the wire when it happened, I don't think they should have disqualified us. That other horse was never going to get past him at that point."

Big Drama's effort in the Swale is all the more impressive considering it came in his first start since he won the Delta Jackpot on Dec. 5. That victory and its graded stakes earnings virtually clinched him a berth in the Kentucky Derby. But a minor injury cost the colt valuable training time that all but precluded any chance of Big Drama making the Derby.

"Although I'm disappointed at the final outcome on Saturday, I couldn't be prouder of what my horse did," said Fawkes.

Fawkes said he and Queen will sit down and discuss what will be next for Big Drama later this week.

"His next start will be around two turns somewhere," said Fawkes. "And I think I might either open his blinkers up or take them off altogether. But as of right now, there will be no Derby."

Theregoesjojo may still pursue Derby trail

Trainer Ken McPeek hasn't ruled out the Derby just yet for Theregoesjojo after his third-place finish in the Florida Derby.

Theregoesjojo attempted to rally in company with runner-up Dunkirk into the stretch, but was clearly backing up behind the leaders when he was taken up sharply behind winner Quality Road at the head of the stretch. Theregoesjojo was defeated nearly eight lengths by Quality Road and six lengths for second by Dunkirk.

"We changed our tactics a bit because the thinking was we needed to stay within striking distance of Quality Road," said McPeek. "He was the best horse on Saturday, no ifs, ands, or buts. He's got more speed and he's got more stamina than us."

McPeek said he planned to ship Theregoesjojo to his farm in Lexington, Ky., this week while keeping his options open between now and Derby Day.

"I'm not ruling out the Blue Grass depending upon how that race shapes up. Or he could run in the Lexington," said McPeek. "I think he's going to really like the Polytrack. And I still have the grass angle to play with him as well."

Plans uncertain for Hello Broadway

Trainer Barclay Tagg will leave his winter home at Gulfstream this week. But not before he worked his top 3-year-old Hello Broadway five furlongs in 1:00.40 in company with stablemate Seeking the Sluice on Monday. Hello Broadway has not started since finishing seventh as the favorite in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby.

"He's going to Keeneland, where there is an allowance race for him at a mile and one-sixteenth on April 10," said Tagg. "If that race doesn't go maybe we'll look at the Blue Grass or the Lexington. Or we could just wait for another allowance race and think about the Preakness."

Tagg will keep a small contingent behind at Palm Meadows until the end of the meet on April 24.

Commentator will work rather than race

Trainer Nick Zito intends to work his multiple Grade 1 winner Commentator prior to Wednesday's first race. Zito had hoped to run Commentator in an allowance race scheduled for Florida Derby Day but the race did not fill. Commentator, who has not started since finishing third in the Clark Handicap on Nov. 28, is pointing for the $1 million Charles Town Classic on April 18.

* Wednesday will also feature the first 2-year-old race of the meet, a 2 1/2-furlong dash for maiden fillies. The race drew a field of 10, led by Girl Bar and Miss Lulu Belle, both from the barn of trainer Wesley Ward.