02/11/2009 12:00AM

McPeek not hurting for talent


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Although one of his top Kentucky Derby prospects, Danger to Society, was transferred to trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.'s barn last week, leading trainer Ken McPeek has no shortage of talented 3-year-olds left to fill the void. Among them are the undefeated Free Country and the improving Theregoesjojo.

Free Country will put his record on the line Saturday in Tampa Bay Downs' Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes. Theregoesjojo will try to establish his stakes credentials here two weeks later as one of many contenders in a very strong field coming together for the one-mile Fountain of Youth.

Free Country won for the second time in as many starts when he captured a first-level allowance race going 1 1/8 miles during the opening week of the meet.

"Tampa is a good spot, especially now that the race is graded," said McPeek. "Hopefully he'll like the racetrack, and if he were to run well there we'd probably consider bringing him back for the Tampa Bay Derby. He's a very talented horse, but he still has things to prove."

Theregoesjojo, a son of Brahms, had been scheduled to make his stakes debut this past weekend in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. Those plans had to be canceled, though, after he came down with a mild lung infection shortly after upsetting the well regarded Quality Road and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 96 in a seven-furlong allowance dash on Jan. 10.

"We needed to take a little time to clear up the infection, but he's doing fine, has already had a couple of works, and will get in two more before the Fountain of Youth."

Danger of Society suffered his first setback in three starts when he finished seventh as the favorite in the Grade 3 Holy Bull. Two days later, he was out of the barn.

"Losing horses like that is part of the business," said McPeek. "There's nothing you can do but deal with it and go on. We really didn't have an opportunity to find out if there was any excuse for his performance in the Holy Bull. He cooled out fine, but before we could do much else he was gone."

Free Country is one of several south Florida-based 3-year-olds who will be in Tampa for the Sam F. Davis. He will be joined by Atomic Rain and A.P. Cardinal, with Obligingly and Miles and Miles also listed as possible by track officials. The Sam Davis serves as the major prep for Tampa's cornerstone event, the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby on March 14.

Big Drama set to resume training

Trainer David Fawkes reports that his Kentucky Derby hopeful, the once-beaten Big Drama, will return to training Thursday morning at Calder after nursing a bruised ankle that has delayed his 3-year-old campaign. Big Drama had been scheduled to compete in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes here on Jan. 31.

"He kicked himself in the stall, nothing serious, and we lost about two weeks of training with him," said Fawkes. "We'll just see how he does once he gets back to the track before making any decisions about where he might run next."

Big Drama is among the leaders on the all-important graded earnings list for 3-year-olds after capping off his successful 2-year-old season with a victory in the rich Grade 3 Delta Jackpot Stakes at Delta Downs.

Barns to get cooling coating

No matter where he runs, one thing is for certain. Big Drama and just about everybody else who toils at Calder this summer will be a lot cooler than in years past. The change is thanks to a project that will begin immediately to treat the roofs of 60 barns with a new rubber-like coating designed to reduce the temperatures in those barns by 10 degrees. All the barns treated had new roofs installed following the devastation caused by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. There are 80 barns overall at Calder.

The roofs on the barns not being treated are of a different design and consequentially are not affected as much by the summer sun.

"Our horsemen are delighted to hear the news and we appreciate the investment made by Churchill Downs on their behalf," said Sam Gordon, president of the Florida Division of the Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association.

Work on the roofs is expected to be completed within two months, weather permitting, well before the opening of the 2009 Calder meet on April 20.

* Finallymadeit, runner-up to Albertus Maximus in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, worked four furlongs in 50.40 seconds at Calder on Tuesday. Finallymadeit could return in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 14.