06/29/2009 11:00PM

Duke of Mischief gives Fawkes more options


MIAMI - While trainer trainer David Fawkes was busy mulling over his options for Big Drama, he suddenly found himself with another graded-stakes-caliber 3-year-old in the barn. Duke of Mischief came out of nowhere to earn some national recognition of his own, cruising to an easy victory last Friday night in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby.

Now, Fawkes finds himself in the enviable position of having to plot strategies for two horses capable of competing at or near the highest level in the 3-year-old division.

Duke of Mischief returned to his Calder base following his big performance in Iowa. Big Drama remains at Monmouth Park, preparing for his next start, which Fawkes says will come either in the Haskell or West Virginia Derby.

"Obviously, my first thought is to keep the two of them apart," said Fawkes, who planned to be back in New Jersey later this week to supervise Big Drama's next work. "At the moment, I'm leaning towards the Haskell with [Big Drama], since he's stabled right there at Monmouth Park. If we pass the Haskell, he'll run in the West Virginia Derby. If he goes to the Haskell, then I might try Duke of Mischief in West Virginia."

Duke of Mischief has made rapid strides since the current session began. After finishing a troubled seventh in the grassy Lord Juban Stakes on May 17, Duke of Mischief switched to the main track to win an entry-level allowance race by nearly a dozen lengths two weeks later. In the Iowa Derby, the son of Graeme Hall made a similarly explosive move under jockey Eibar Coa, drawing off to a six-length victory while earning a career-best 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

"This colt had a sloppy way of going earlier in his career, so I steered him to the turf because I felt that surface would be a little kinder to him," Fawkes said. "But with all the rain we've had here, I started getting a little frustrated and decided if we were ever going to try him on dirt again, this was the time. And it seems to have made a big difference. I knew if he repeated his previous effort, he could win in Iowa, but the way he ran over top of those horses even exceeded my expectations."

Fawkes also sent out another of his improving 3-year-olds, Many Kisses, to a courageous victory in the Primal Stakes for 3-year-old fillies here Saturday. Many Kisses overcame a near-disastrous trip to earn her first stakes triumph in a race switched from the turf to the main track.

"It's pretty much the same situation with her as Duke of Mischief," Fawkes said. "She'd been running on grass because I thought the races would be easier, but she's probably going to be better on dirt."

Fawkes is in the midst of a terrific meet locally, having won with 13 of the 29 horses he's saddled.

"It's been a really good meet so far, and I'm very fortunate to have a great crew down here," Fawkes said. "I couldn't do it without them."

Wolfson works stakes candidates

Leading trainer Marty Wolfson had a busy morning Monday, working seven horses he plans to start in graded stakes on the July 11 Summit of Speed card. Wolfson's brigade of stakes candidates comprised Pious Ashley, Jessica Is Back, and B R's Girl, all of whom will be entered in the Grade 1 Princess Rooney for 3-year-old fillies; First Passage and Donttellmewhattodo, prepping for the Grade 3 Azalea; You Luckie Mann for the Grade 2 Carry Back; and Processor's Turf, who will join stablemate Ikigai in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap.

Donttellmewhattodo may have been the most impressive of the large contingent to breeze Monday. Trainer Doug O'Neill left the California invader with Wolfson following her third-place finish in the Leave Me Alone stakes two weeks earlier. Donttellmewhattodo worked a half-mile in 50.34 seconds over a wet track under jockey Kristi Chapman, with the final quarter-mile in 23.14.

"I really love the way the filly finished," Wolfson said. "She's a beautiful filly, and her biggest problem is learning to relax. But I think she will really improve off her first race here and can really turn the tables in the Azalea."

Wolfson said Edgar Prado will ride Donttellmewhattodo in the Azalea.

Leyva returning to ride Thursday

Jockey Juan Leyva, whose career was put on hold due to a back injury suffered this winter at Gulfstream Park, will return to the saddle Thursday. While recuperating, Leyva spent his time working as a jockey agent for fellow rider Ariel Smith. Leyva has engaged A.J. Prasaguet as his agent.

"We have some good outfits backing and helping us when he comes back," said Prasaguet, who also books mounts for jockey Eddie Dominguez.

Leyva rode How's Your Halo to victory in the Grade 2 Richter Scale just prior to his injury. However, Prasaguet said How's Your Halo will be ridden by Manoel Cruz in the upcoming Smile Sprint.