08/12/2009 11:00PM

Far less at stake in turf rematch


MIAMI - The last time Possetothemax, Midnight Ridge, and Duke's Flying Tiger met, they were racing for a $105,000 purse in the Calder Turf Sprint Handicap. On Saturday, the same trio gathers again for decidedly less prize money, a mere $19,500 (including Florida Owners Awards), to be exact, under starter allowance conditions going five furlongs on the turf at Calder.

Possetothemax stepped to the head of the local turf sprint division with a pair of victories earlier in the meet that included a game neck decision over Lettie's Relic in the Reappeal overnight stakes on June 20. He could not repeat the effort when the big money was on the line in the Turf Sprint, dropping farther back than normal off a very swift pace before rallying to finish fourth behind Little Nick and the odds-on Mr Nightlinger.

Duke's Flying Tiger and Midnight Ridge were both victimized by unlucky trips in the Turf Sprint. Duke's Flying Tiger was bumped and steadied after the break, dropping to the rear of the pack before finishing with good energy to be third. A slow start also compromised his chances in the Reappeal.

Midnight Ridge prompted the early pace in the Turf Sprint before getting squeezed back and steadied sharply entering the far turn. The speedy Midnight Ridge, whose four victories over the past two seasons have come when on the lead, did well to finish fifth following the trouble.

Lettie's Relic passed the Turf Sprint after missing by a neck to Possetothemax in the Reappeal. Lettie's Relic has trained sharply since his last start and could offer the best value among the four primary contenders in Saturday's feature.

King's Bishop next for Big Drama

Trainer David Fawkes said both Big Drama and Duke of Mischief came out of their recent stakes tries in good order.

Big Mischief returned to his Calder base following a fifth-place finish behind Rachel Alexandra in the Grade 1 Haskell on Aug. 2, while Big Drama is back at his summer home at Monmouth Park after checking in a tired second behind upset winner Soul Warrior in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby the previous afternoon.

Fawkes said Big Drama will now shorten up in distance and be pointed for the seven-furlong, Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga on Aug. 29, while Duke of Mischief could make his next start in the Grade 2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 19.

"Big Drama will continue to train at Monmouth before shipping to Saratoga two days before the race," said Fawkes. "If all goes well we'll probably point him for either the Breeders' Cup Sprint or Dirt Mile."

* Spirit Seeker ($19.20) used her speed to upset a strong field of starter allowance rivals in Thursday's $19,500 feature. The lone 3-year-old and longest price in the field, Spirit Seeker got away with soft fractions on the front end before drawing away under jockey Luis Arango. Spirit Seeker is trained by Enrique Alonso for owner-breeder Herman Heinlein.