11/11/2010 4:18PM

Fawkes still considering option for Duke of Mischief

Benoit & Associates
Duke of Mischief, with Eibar Coa up, wins the Philip H Iselin at Monmouth Park.

MIAMI – One week after winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs with Big Drama, trainer David Fawkes finds himself back at home with the other big horse in his barn, the multiple graded stakes winner Duke of Mischief, who figures to be odds-on if he starts to capture Saturday’s $150,000 Carl G. Rose Classic, main event on the annual Florida Million day card at Calder. But Fawkes liked it so much in Louisville – and who could blame him – that he’s considering scratching Duke of Mischief from this seemingly soft spot and return to Churchill later this month for the Grade 1 Clark Handicap.

The Carl G. Rose is one of eight stakes for Florida-breds to be decided on Saturday’s card. Fawkes will be honored after the second race along with all the connections of the locally based Big Drama and Juvenile Fillies winner Awesome Feather for their success at last week’s Breeders’ Cup.

Duke of Mischief is a standout in the Carl G. Rose, having already won three graded stakes this season, including the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap on April 3. Both the Oaklawn and Grade 3 Iselin, which he captured by 2 1/4 lengths over Redding Colliery this summer at Monmouth Park, were decided at the same nine-furlong distance as the Carl G. Rose.

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Fawkes had flirted with the idea of running Duke of Mischief in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile before opting to take a little more conservative route.

“I just thought the Dirt Mile was coming up a little too tough, that he was maybe just a notch below that caliber,” said Fawkes. “But the Clark could be a different matter. He’s doing great right now. I’m going to look over the nominations for the race, see how we fit, and if it looks like he can be competitive I’ll take him out on Saturday and head back to Louisville.”

If Duke of Mischief opts out of the Carl G. Rose, it will leave a field of only five older horses topped by trainer Bill Mott’s Birdrun, who exits a game one-length victory over the odds on Tahitian Warrior, under high level optional claiming conditions at Belmont Park on Sept. 23. Birdrun earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 105 for the performance in a race decided around one turn.

Birdrun should be able to sit a perfect trip in the Rose behind the speed of Riversrunrylee who figures to set the pace from the rail. Riversrunrylee led throughout to upset the Judy Blueeyes Stakes early this fall but was overmatched against Grade 3 opposition when a well beaten sixth in the Spend A Buck three weeks later.

Fly by Phil has yet to run back to the form that saw him win the Grade 3 Tropical Park Derby over a yielding turf course here New Year’s Day. Idle nearly nine months following that victory, Fly by Phil has disappointed in two subsequent starts that included a ninth place finish in the grassy Calder Derby on thr turf.

Dream Maestro, three times stakes-placed this season, and King Ghidorah complete the lineup.