Noble Drama Chasing Third Win in 125k Wildcat Heir
Sep 23, 2021
Connections Looking to Test ‘Nerve’ in $75,000 Hollywood Beach
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– Harold Queen’s homebred Noble Drama, coming off the first interstate road trip of his 28-race career, returns to South Florida looking for his eighth stakes victory in Saturday’s $125,000 FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes Wildcat Heir at Gulfstream Park.
The fourth running of the one-mile Wildcat Heir for 3-year-olds and up who are FSS eligible is the second of four stakes worth $1 million in purses on a 12-race program co-headlined by the $400,000 In Reality and $400,000 My Dear Girl, the final legs of the tradition-rich Florida Sire Stakes series for 2-year-olds sired by accredited stallions standing in Florida.
First race post time is 12:20 p.m.
A 6-year-old fan favorite, Noble Drama is gunning for his third win in the Wildcat Heir, having captured the inaugural running in 2018 as a 3-year-old while facing elders, and last year’s edition by a length as the favorite.
“I think he’s better than ever right now,” trainer David Fawkes said. “If he wins it, it would be three years in a row for him. That would be fun.”
Noble Drama missed the Wildcat Heir in 2019 during an eight-month break between races that began in mid-April after three straight off-the-board finishes and lasted into mid-December.
“He just needed some time. He gets like that, like any racehorse. Every once in a while they need a break,” Fawkes said. “You don’t see horses race year-round consistently that do well. This way you get more longevity out of them. You get a chance to have an older horse if you give them the time when they need it. With him, it’s always just been time for vacation. You can see it in his racing.”
Out of a half-sister to 2010 Eclipse Award-winning sprinter Big Drama and full sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Sheer Drama, Noble Drama had raced exclusively in Florida with nine wins, seven in stakes, and more than $700,000 in purse earnings before being driven by Fawkes and his daughter and assistant, Natalie, to West Virginia for the Aug. 27 Charles Town Classic (G2), a race Fawkes won in 2011 with Duke of Mischief.
Noble Drama entered the race off back-to-back one-mile overnight handicap victories at Gulfstream, the May 22 My Name’s Jimmy and July 11 City of Dania in his familiar last-to-first style. He wound up fifth at Charles Town, beaten 7 ½ lengths in the three-turn, 1 1/8-mile Classic.
“It was [a] very speed-biased [track] that night and the poor little guy had no opportunity to make up any ground,” Fawkes said. “The jock rode him good. I wasn’t unhappy with anything. Charles Town took great care of us.
“He really is a cool horse. He’s so easy to deal with,” he added. “Natalie got on him while we were up there and he went great for her. She got on him when we got back down here since the race. He came out of the race in great order.”
Noble Drama tuned up for the Wildcat Heir with a half-mile work in 48.82 seconds Sept. 18 at Gulfstream. Emisael Jaramillo, aboard for five of his career wins, rides back from the far outside in a field of six.
“I was a little perplexed with the early part of the work, but once he got into it he wound up working really, really good,” Fawkes said. “The first part of the work was a little easy but, man, he finished up good and galloped out super strong. I was really happy with it.”
Owned and trained by Kathleen O’Connell, Well Defined is in great form with five wins from eight starts this year, all at Gulfstream, including a pair of seven-furlong Florida-bred stakes – the May 1 Big Drama and Aug. 14 Benny the Bull by a neck as the favorite in his most recent effort. The 5-year-old gelding won the FSS In Reality in 2018 and the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs in 2019.
Miguel Vasquez replaces Jaramillo on Well Defined from Post 5 at topweight of 126 pounds.
Trainer Ralph Nicks entered the Jacks or Better Farm homebred trio of Shivaree, Garter and Tie and Old Time Revival. Tough luck runner-up in the Benny the Bull, Shivaree is a three-time career stakes winner that ran second to subsequent Belmont (G1) and Travers (G1) winner Tiz the Law in the 2020 Curlin Florida Derby (G1).
Fourth in back-to-back optional claiming allowances at Gulfstream, Garter and Tie ran second in last year’s Wildcat Heir as part of an 11-race winless streak that dates back to his third career stakes victory in the June 2019 Ocala. Old Time Revival won the 2018 Challedon at Laurel Park and has placed in three other stakes including a second in the 2018 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct.
Completing the field is veterinarian Dr. Rodney Lundock’s homebred Pro Quality. The 4-year-old Exclusive Quality gelding made his stakes debut in the Benny the Bull, finishing third.
The Wildcat Heir honors the multiple stakes-winning Florida-bred that was the leading sire in his home state four times. Retired following the 2005 season, his biggest victory came in the 2004 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G1) at Pimlico.
Connections Looking to Test ‘Nerve’ in $75,000 Hollywood Beach
Karl Glassman and Kathi Glassman’s Nerve, a determined winner in his turf debut last month, will take the step up into stakes company as part of a wide-open field of 11 entered in Saturday’s $100,000 Hollywood Beach.
The Hollywood Beach for 2-year-olds sprinting five furlongs on the grass is the first of four stakes worth $1 million in purses co-headlined by the $400,000 In Reality and $400,000 My Dear Girl, the final legs of the tradition-rich Florida Sire Stakes series for juveniles sired by accredited stallions standing in Florida.
Nerve, a chestnut son of Rainbow Heir, ran last in his Aug. 6 debut against Florida-breds going six furlongs on the dirt. Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. brought Nerve back on the grass in a five-furlong maiden special weight Aug. 29, where he led from start to finish for a neck triumph over late-running No Nay Franklin.
Edgard Zayas, aboard for the maiden victory, is named to ride back from Post 7.
“He showed speed and stopped [in debut]. He came out of the race fine but evidently needed the race and evidently likes the turf,” Plesa said. “I think he was more in command [last out] than it might have looked, that’s my thought. I would anticipate he’ll be laying up close. Edgard’s good out of the gate and he’s got speed, and it’s five furlongs.”
Bred by Ocala Stud, Nerve was purchased for $130,000 as a 2-year-old in training in April. He is one of five horses in the race eligible for a $25,000 Florida-bred ‘Win Only’ bonus should they finish first.
“He’s all ready. He ran a big race on the turf last time and this one’s on the turf, so it only makes sense,” Plesa said. “He came out of the race great. He’s better now than before he ran, so we’re optimistic. You can’t win unless you’re in it and belongs in it, I think.”
Monarch Stables Inc.’s Last Leaf is one of two fillies entered to face boys in the Hollywood Beach. Trained by Ron Spatz, the daughter of Not This Time is the most experienced horse in the field with four starts, the most recent a 10 ¾-length optional claimer Sept. 4 at Gulfstream sprinting six furlongs that followed a fifth-place finish one race prior, her only time off the board.
“It wasn’t a stellar field last time but she whipped on them pretty good,” Spatz said. “The only bad race she had, she had an excuse. She didn’t break well and they kind of separated and there was a big hole and she just took off going after the lead and kind of overdid it the first quarter of a mile. Then she was pressed in between horses and just wasn’t a happy race for her. So the next time I took the blinkers off and she broke better and took herself up head-and-head but she was on the outside sitting there under a hold and she was much the best. Obviously, she liked the footing.”
Last Leaf has yet to race on turf or run against males. She fired a bullet half-mile work in 48.07 seconds Sept. 17 at Gulfstream, the fastest of 32 horses.
“She’s doing good. I’m not really that concerned about facing the boys; I‘m more concerned about whether it comes off the turf or not. I think she looks really good in there on dirt. She’s unknown on turf,” Spatz said. “I don’t know much about her pedigree for turf. She’s a little horse and she doesn’t have very big feet, if that says anything I don’t know.”
Cammarota Racing’s Barone Cesco an Aug. 6 debut winner who ran ninth in the Skidmore, both at 5 ½ furlongs on the Saratoga turf; recent maiden winners Rn Lea Run and Peter D; maidens Corporate Affair and Southern Breeze and first-time starters Duke Skywalker, R Girl’s Werth It and Astral Ride complete the field. Onward Austin is entered for main track only.