Sheer Drama in Madison as Maria’s charge is rebuffed

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April 9th, 2016

Harold L. Queen’s homebred Sheer Drama, fourth to Stopchargingmaria in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) in their last appearance, gained revenge in a fantastic renewal of Saturday’s $300,000 Madison (G1) in their rematch at Keeneland. Underscoring the depth and quality of the Madison, the third-place finisher was Wavell Avenue, last seen landing the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) over this track and trip.

As expected, the early pace was frenetic, with Sunday Rules flying through splits of :22.42 and :44.86 while pressed by Enchanting Lady and Fioretti. Sheer Drama was within striking range on the rail, but Stopchargingmaria was expending more energy chasing out wide from post 12.

Turning for home, Joe Bravo peeled Sheer Drama a few paths off the fence to challenge the tiring pace factors, and Stopchargingmaria moved in tandem on the outside. Stopchargingmaria briefly appeared to have the upper hand as they tussled down the stretch. Sheer Drama proved a resilient foe, however, and came again to prevail by a neck. After finishing seven furlongs in 1:22.07, the 8-1 chance rewarded her loyalists with $18.80.

Stopchargingmaria had to settle for runner-up honors in the Madison for the second straight year. But in light of her ground loss – 43 feet more than Sheer Drama, according to Trakus – and the caliber of her opponents, she ran even better this time around. Add in the fact that she’s really more of a thoroughgoing router, and we can look forward to another strong season from the Todd Pletcher trainee.

Wavell Avenue, 10th early, closed for third without menacing the top two. Birdathewire came from similarly far back to grab fourth. Enchanting Lady fared best of the early leaders in fifth.

Sheer Drama, who flirted with retirement during her winter vacation in Ocala, is a welcome returnee to the East Coast distaff division. The David Fawkes mare enjoyed a career season in 2015, scoring a graded breakthrough in the Royal Delta (G2) before reaching new heights in the Delaware H. (G1) and Personal Ensign (G1). Her resume includes five stakes placings, chief among them last spring’s La Troienne (G1), and she also owns a Laurel track record from 2013. Sheer Drama’s bankroll stands at $1,618,840 from her 21-7-8-1 mark.

The Florida-bred 6-year-old is a Burning Roma half-sister to champion sprinter Big Drama. She is also a full sister to multiple Grade 2-placed stakes winner Little Drama. Their dam, the Notebook mare Riveting Drama, has produced a total of six stakes performers.

Quotes from Keeneland

Winning trainer David Fawkes: “I talked to (Keeneland Racing Secretary) Ben (Huffman) about this race early in the year, and thought it might be a good starting spot. Never expected it to come up this tough. But she ran her race – she brought her A game. She worked so good last week, I thought she could do anything (in this race).”

Winning jockey Joe Bravo (who also won Saturday’s Shakertown [G2] with Undrafted): “This filly did a lot of great things last year, won some Grade 1s, and this was her first race back. Dave (Fawkes) and I spent all week looking at it and saying, ‘Wow. These are some of the best fillies in the country.’ What she did today – you gotta just love her. She has so much heart. (Todd) Pletcher’s horse (Stopchargingmaria) came to us at the top of the lane, and she passed us. (When a horse trained by) Todd goes by you, you think, ‘Oh right.’ But Sheer Drama said, ‘None of that.’ She gutted it out and outran her down the lane.”

Jockey Javier Castellano on Stopchargingmaria’s second-place effort: “The outside post didn’t help her much, and I had to go wide a little bit. That might have cost me the race but it’s something you just gotta deal with. You have to go through it and hope for much the best. She ran such a good race. I'm not disappointed at all. I'm so happy and satisfied with what she did today. Just second-best today.”



Photo courtesy Keeneland/Coady Photography.