David Fawkes wasn’t afraid to do a little begging in order to keep Sheer Drama in his care.
With the daughter of Burning Roma already a multiple Grade I winner, owner Harold Queen was thinking of sending the chestnut mare to the breeding shed for 2016 only to have Fawkes plead that she had more to offer at the top level.
The effort Sheer Drama delivered Saturday might indeed be in contention as her best ever as she fought back after being passed by reigning Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Stopchargingmaria in the stretch to win the Grade I, $300,000 Madison Stakes by a neck at Keeneland.
“When you have one Grade I horse in your barn, you do a lot of begging,” Fawkes said. “Mr. Queen was really thinking about breeding her but I went out the farm…and I went ‘Look at her. She couldn’t look any better. She’s matured.’ So I’m really glad they brought her back.”
The 11-horse lineup for the Madison was as stout a race as can be carded. In addition to Stopchargingmaria, Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Wavell Avenue was making her seasonal bow in the 7-furlong race and Grade I winner Birdatthewire was also in the gate.
In her first outing since running fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last October, Sheer Drama saved ground along the rail under jockey Joe Bravo, rating just behind pacesetter Sunday Rules through an opening half in 44.86.
The 6-year-old mare angled out coming off the final turn and engaged Stopchargingmaria making her bid on the far outside. The latter stuck her head in front in midstretch but Sheer Drama found more to earn her seven win in 21 career starts, hitting the wire in 1:22.07 as Wavell Avenue was another two lengths back in third.
“(When a horse trained by) Todd (Pletcher) goes by you, you think, ‘Oh right.’” Bravo said. “But Sheer Drama said, ‘None of that.’ She gutted it out and outran her down the lane.”
Undrafted rallies to win Shakertown
Undrafted raced wide and entered the stretch near the back of the 12-horse field before making a big move to win the Grade II, $200,000 Shakertown Stakes.
In his first start since finishing fifth as the favorite in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland, the 6-year-old son of Purim flew past 10-1 shot Something Extra near the finish line to win the 5 1/2 -furlong race by a half-length in 1:02.96 over the Keeneland turf course. Commute, at 17-1, was third.
Joe Bravo was aboard Undrafted, who notched the victory for trainer Wesley Ward and co-owner Wes Welker, the NFL wide receiver.
“He’s a really neat little horse and he loves it here at Keeneland,” Ward said. “Before his races, he gets all charged up, no matter where he is. Kind of like his owner: a little guy, but tough.”
Undrafted paid $9.00 to win as the second betting choice behind Power Alert, who finished eighth.
Ami’s Flatter takes Commonwealth
Martin Garcia’s instructions aboard Ami’s Flatter were to keep him in the clear and make one big run at the end of the Grade III, $250,000 Commonwealth Stakes.
“I put my horse where he’s supposed to be and when I asked him, (it) was easy,” Garcia said after riding the 4-year-old son of Flatter to a victory in the 7-furlong race.
Ami’s Flatter swept past 3-1 favorite Holy Boss at the top of the stretch and pulled away to defeat Ready for Rye by 2 3/4 lengths. Holy Boss held on for third.
Trained by Josie Carroll, Ami’s Flatter paid $10.60 to win and completed the race in a final time of 1:21.66.