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The UAE Derby (G2) can be a prep race leading to the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs in May, and this year the Nad Al Sheba classic gets a runner with good form against some of the leading contenders for the US Triple Crown.
Massive Drama, who has been third behind classy performers like Into Mischief, El Gato Malo and Georgie Boy in California, travels east for a crack at the big pot on offer in Dubai.
MASSIVE DRAMA (USA)
3 dkb / br c Kafwain – Peyvon / Slewacide
Trainer: Dale Romans
When Massive Drama made a winning debut at Monmouth Park on Breeders’ Cup day last October, many observers saw him as a Kentucky Derby horses. He was backed as if defeat was out of the question, and he gained a solid, albeit narrow, win over 6 furlongs on a muddy track. Next step for the Bob Baffert trainee was the Hollywood Prevue (G3) at Hollywood Park four weeks later, when he stepped up to 7 furlongs. He jumped straight to the lead and was never headed, coming home by 1 ¾ lengths from Into Mischief. The latter got his revenge in December though, when he won the CashCall Futurity (G1) over 8.5 furlongs – and Massive Drama had to settle for third. He was looking like a horse with stamina limitations. So, Kentucky Derby dreams were perhaps not so realistic after all.
The son of Kafwain, who was a high class juvenile for Baffert in 2002, has finished third twice again since, but he has now moved to trainer Dale Romans. Massive Drama made his seasonal debut in the one-mile San Rafael Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita in January, when he came across the freakishly talented gelding El Gato Malo. Not just that, Massive Drama was hooked up in a crazy speed duel, and when he and his fellow leader tired, El Gato Malo swopped from the back to pass them for an impressive win. Massive Drama was also passed by Indian Sun (a subsequent winner) close home. A drop back in distance seemed to make sense for him after this. Like his father, he is a runner with a lot of speed. Massive Drama tried the 7-furlong San Vicente Stakes (G2) at the same venue on February 10. Into Mischief was back in the mix but Georgie Boy, one of the top juveniles in North America last autumn, was making his comeback and he beat them both. Into Mischief got second, a length in front of Massive Drama.
At the time, this looked about as good a run as Massive Drama had produced but it later emerged that Into Mischief had picked up an injury and the form is therefore a bit dubious. If Into Mischief did run to his best in the San Vicente, well, then one must assume that Georgie Boy is a serious candidate for the Kentucky Derby. He beat Into Mischief by 3 ¼ lengths, and he was going away at the finish. Georgie Boy is scheduled to run in the San Felipe Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita on Saturday, March 15, where he will try to strengthen his position as one of the very best.
Where does Massive Drama fit in? He is not far behind the top echelon but if he is ever going to beat these horses, it will perhaps happen if they ever met over 6 furlongs. He does stay a mile plus but sprinting could turn out to be his game. A run in the UAE Derby, where emphasis normally is on stamina, is quite intriguing, and the distance makes it even harder to assess Massive Drama against the likes of Royal Vintage and Honour Devil.
It is very interesting that a horse with so many formlines to some of the best of the classic contenders in North America comes to Nad Al Sheba. It could give us a line to the best in the UAE, plus some Europeans. Give Massive Drama a moderate pace scenario, and perhaps he has a massive chance of a picking up a massive cheque on March 29.
Published: 2008-03-11 11:21:18
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