01/24/2011 4:02PM

Fawkes has busy Sunshine Millions day ahead

Email

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Trainer David Fawkes won’t have very long to bask in the glow of accepting his first Eclipse Award after Big Drama was named champion sprinter in 2010 at last week’s ceremonies here in Miami. There is plenty of business to take care of on both coasts on Saturday, with Fawkes starting three horses in the Sunshine Millions, including Duke of Mischief in the main event, the $500,000 Classic, to be decided this year at Gulfstream Park.

Duke of Mischief, who will likely be second choice behind First Dude in the 1 1/8-mile Classic, has not started since finishing fifth (via disqualification) after pressing the early pace in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap on Nov. 26. Duke of Mischief was a three-time graded stakes winner in 2010, one of those victories coming at Gulfstream in the Grade 3 Ft. Lauderdale.

“For $500,000, I thought the Classic didn’t come up too tough, although it came up a little tougher than the racing office claimed it would, since I didn’t expect First Dude was going in there,” said Fawkes. “The good thing is that there is plenty of speed in the field, I thought he was a little too close in the Clark.”Fawkes said that “Duke worked phenomenal the other day” with Eibar Coa riding. “I caught him in :11 for the last eighth mile, and Coa came back and said, ‘You’re ready now.‘ ”

Duke of Mischief worked five furlongs in 1:03.20 over a very cuppy track at Calder on Saturday.

Although he will have Duke of Mischief in the Classic, Fawkes himself will be at Santa Anita on Saturday, where he will send out owner Donald Dizney’s red-hot homebred Apriority as one of the favorites in the Sunshine Millions Sprint. Apriority, who began his career in California with trainer Richard Mandella, has won his last three starts for Fawkes, including a second-level optional claiming and allowance dash going seven furlongs here on Jan. 6.

“I think I’m going to California,” said Fawkes. “Mr. Dizney’s son-in-law and racing manager, Roger Brand, will be there, so I’ll go out and spend some time with him. Apriority worked extremely well here Saturday, and I think this horse is ready to step forward again. I don’t believe the turn back in distance will hurt him. The only thing I’m concerned about is that the track is so speed-biased out there right now, there could be some lone speed in the race that could get away from us, although my horse is quick and should be prompting the pace.”

Fawkes’ third Sunshine Millions starter is North Rodeo, who will be one of the outsiders here Saturday in the Filly and Mare Sprint.

As for Big Drama, Fawkes said he just plans to bide his time with the reigning sprint champion following his record-setting performance winning the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector in his 2011 debut.

“I’m in no rush with him,” said Fawkes. “Maybe we’ll look at the Carter next, with our first long term goal possibly the Met Mile.”

Two riders start bans

Paco Lopez holds a commanding lead in the jockey standings entering Wednesday’s program but will not be around to add to the 19 winners he has amassed thus far at the session until Friday. Both Lopez and John Velazquez began serving three-day suspensions on Sunday, each having been handed days by the stewards for their rides in the Dania Beach Stakes on Jan. 16.

Lopez was disqualified from fourth aboard Swift Warrior and placed eighth in the Dania Beach for allegedly interfering with the tiring The Best Glacier in deep stretch. Velazquez was suspended for his ride aboard runner-up Brilliant Speed, who angled out sharply and appeared to cut off Racing Aptitude briefly while commencing her bid in early stretch. Although Velazquez was handed a suspension, Brilliant Speed was not disqualified from second behind race winner Adirondack Summer.

Caixa Eletronica impresses

Jockeys Luis Saez and Edgar Prado combined to win Sunday’s late daily double, both riders notching their first victories of the meet in the process. Saez won aboard Caixa Eletronica in the co-featured ninth, with Prado scoring aboard Schoolyard Cat in the finale.

Caixa Eletronica turned in a big effort to defeat a strong field that included the 3-5 Mission Impazible and Homeboykris, both of whom started in the 2010 Kentucky Derby.

The win came in Caixa Eletronica’s second start since being transferred to trainer Dubis Chaparro during the fall. He had finished sixth in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope two weeks earlier.

“He was in the process of healing up from a quarter crack when I got him from William Phipps,” said Chaparro. “He did a great job with him, sent him to me real healthy and with the quarter crack almost closed. My horse needed that first race here after being away several months, and he came into this one really, really sharp.”

Chaparro said he had no plans for Caixa Eletronica’s next start but said he would consider the Grade 1 Donn on Feb. 5.

◗ Dialed In, who was scratched by trainer Nick Zito out of his 3-year-old debut because of wet track conditions here Friday, worked a bullet half mile in :47.40 at Palm Meadows on Monday and is expected to start his campaign on Sunday in the Grade 3 Holy Bull.