05/10/2010 11:00PM

Duke of Mischief, Big Drama on target


MIAMI - The weather has really started to heat up in south Florida since April turned to May and so too have the big guns in trainer David Fawkes's arsenal, Duke of Mischief and Big Drama.

Both Duke of Mischief and Big Drama moved another step closer to their next start when they worked here Sunday morning. Duke of Mischief is preparing for another possible shot at a Grade 1 victory, while Big Drama readies for his much-anticipated 2010 debut, which could come locally within the next month.

Fawkes is targeting the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs for Duke of Mischief's first start since his impressive 2 1/4- length victory over Win Willy in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap on April 3.

"The Foster is our first choice but a lot will depend on who else is going there," Fawkes said. "If Quality Road or Zenyatta are heading that way, I won't go. We'll move to Plan B, which is the Lone Star Handicap and then the Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park."

The Lone Star Handicap will be run on May 31, the Stephen Foster on June 12.

"By running at Lone Star I can get a few more weeks in before the Salvator Mile, which is a Win and You're In race for the Breeders' Cup," said Fawkes. "He's doing great at the moment. I broke him off at the seven-furlong pole for his work the other morning, had him go easy for the first part, and then he finished up his final quarter in 24."

Big Drama has not started since finishing sixth in the Grade 1 King's Bishop last summer at Saratoga. His half-mile drill in 48.40 on Sunday was just his third work since returning to Fawkes's barn earlier this spring.

Fawkes said he's planning to run Big Drama in the six-furlong Ponche Handicap on June 12, and then the Grade 2 Smile on the Summit of Speed card four weeks later.

Fawkes is also eagerly awaiting the return of one of his former pupils, the old veteran Lord Robyn, who is expected in later this week. The 8-year-old was recently purchased by his former owner Alex Lieblong after his second start of the season at Turf Paradise and will come back to his old home after running last weekend at Churchill Downs.

Lord Robyn has won a dozen races, including four stakes, with the majority of his success coming for Fawkes. His most notable victory came as a 3-year-old when he captured the Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby to celebrate New Year's Day in 2005.

Fawkes will continue to have a big presence here this summer with 35 horses bedded down at Calder as well as an additional 15 at Monmouth Park, which includes a small division for Frank Bertolino's Monarch Stable. Among the 2-year-olds in his barn this summer will be Little Drama, a half-brother to Big Drama by Burning Roma.

Miss Aristocrat in softer spot

Miss Aristocrat will return to allowance company and take on older horses for the first time in her career in Thursday's $29,000 feature, a one-mile optional-claiming race.

Miss Aristocrat won her first two starts, but has lost her four subsequent races, all stakes. She did finish second and third behind Diva Delite in the Suncoast and Gasparilla stakes at Tampa Bay Downs earlier this winter. Miss Aristocrat is trained by Jason DaCosta for owner Wayne DaCosta.

Margaret Smile wheels back on a week's rest, returning to the main track after rallying to a popular victory over an overmatched field of $12,500 starter allowance competition going a mile on the turf. Margaret Smile captured 8 of her 14 starts in 2009, all of those wins coming on dirt.

Cataldi, trainer, dies at 81

The former trainer Tony Cataldi, whose daughter Sandy has 10 horses stabled here this summer, died last week at his home in Tampa. He was 81 years old.

Cataldi was a mainstay on the New England circuit during a training career that spanned nearly 30 years. He won 509 races, including nine stakes, before retiring in 2004.

Cataldi is survived by Sandy, a second daughter Trina, and son Scott. A memorial service will be held on Saturday at the Trinity Memorial Gardens, 12609 Memorial Drive in Trinity, Fla. at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

* Apprentice Luis Saez will bring a 15-13 lead in the jockey standings over defending champion Manoel Cruz into Thursday's program. Steve DiMauro tops the trainers ledger with four wins over the first nine days of the long Calder session.