ELMONT, N.Y. -- Trainer David Fawkes believes Big Drama will benefit from having a tough race going into the Breeders' Cup Sprint. He just wasn't looking for something this tough.
Big Drama, last year's champion sprinter, heads a fantastic field of fast sprinters set to contest six furlongs in Saturday's Grade 1, $350,000 Vosburgh Invitational, unquestionably the most competitive of the six graded stakes races to be run at Belmont Park.
Big Drama was one of nine sprinters entered for the Vosburgh, which awards an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Sprint, a race Big Drama won last November at Churchill Downs. Big Drama has only raced twice since then, a big-figured victory in the Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream in January and a matter-of-fact win in something called the Whippleton Stakes at Calder on Sept. 4.
In the Vosburgh, Big Drama will take on a field that includes graded winners Euroears, Trappe Shot, Justin Phillip, Calibrachoa, the speedy Force Freeze, and his own stablemate Apriority, who was beaten a nose in the Grade 1 Carter.
"I want to win it, but at the same time I don't want him to have to put forth everything for him to win and in this race I think he's going to have to put forth everything to win,'' Fawkes said Wednesday at his Aqueduct barn.
Big Drama was off for eight months in part because it took him a long time to get over the Mr. Prospector, which came two months after his BC Sprint win.
Though Fawkes's stable is based at Aqueduct, Big Drama was expected to ship from Calder directly to Belmont Park, where he will be stabled leading up to the race.
Big Drama, who is likely to be part of the early pace, will break from post 6 under Ramon Dominguez.
Apriority, who was second in the Grade 1 Carter and second in the Churchill Downs in the spring, is making his second start off a layoff. He suffered an abscess that has limited him to one start since the Churchill Downs, that being a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga on Aug. 7.
"I thought he ran a great race, he blew a shoe on the bad foot,'' Fawkes said. "I think now his feet are in great shape. I think if we keep a shoe on for the race it will make a huge difference. He ran in a spider plate and in my opinion the spider plate is very flat and has a tendency to slide easy and it just slid it off.''
Apriority will break from post 2 under Alex Solis.
The Vosburgh will go as race 7 and be the first leg of a pick four wager that has a guaranteed pool of $500,000.