Tough draw for Munnings

Updated: August 28, 2009, 11:32 PM ET
By David Grening | Daily Racing Form



SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- In a competitive renewal of the Grade 1 King's Bishop, where post position could be a factor, trainers Todd Pletcher and David Fawkes couldn't feel more differently about their fate.

Pletcher is the trainer of Munnings, a multiple Grade 2 stakes winner at seven furlongs who drew the rail.

"There's no doubt that it's the worst position to start from, so hopefully he can overcome it," Pletcher said.

Fawkes is the trainer of Big Drama, a multiple stakes winner at seven furlongs who drew the outside post in the nine-horse field.

"Love it," Fawkes said. "It's a great spot to be."

Munnings and Big Drama are likely to be the top two betting choices in the $300,000 King's Bishop, but it is far from a two-horse race. Capt. Candyman Can is 3 for 3 at seven furlongs, and Vineyard Haven won the Grade 1 Hopeful at seven furlongs here last year.

Munnings and Big Drama are both cutting back to their preferred distance after attempting two turns against Triple Crown race winners in their last out. Munnings finished third to Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra in the $1.25 million Haskell Invitational at 1 1/8 miles at Monmouth.

Haskell also-rans have had great success in the King's Bishop. Since 1997, Tale of the Cat, Forestry, More Than Ready, and Hard Spun have won the King's Bishop after finishing third or worse in the Haskell. Pletcher, who trained More Than Ready, hopes Munnings can work out a trip from the rail to join that list.

"I guess you got Everyday Heroes and Despite the Odds and Big Drama, maybe those three [go] and we can sit in behind them," Pletcher said. "The horse is doing well. He's in good shape. I'm just not crazy about the post."

Big Drama comes off a neck loss to Soul Warrior in the West Virginia Derby, a race in which he ran off on the lead.

"We were the lone speed," Fawkes said. "Unfortunately, when he left the gate he got bounced around, and according to the jock it pissed him off. He grabbed the bridle and went. You can only fight with a horse so much; you lose either way. You lose if you let him run off, and you lose if you fight him."

Big Drama has finished first in all three of his seven-furlong starts, though he was disqualified from first for interference in the Grade 2 Swale at Gulfstream Park in which he established a track record (1:20.88) for seven furlongs. Eibar Coa has the call.

All three of Capt. Candyman Can's victories at seven furlongs came in graded stakes. He is coming off a solid second to Quality Road in the Grade 2 Amsterdam, a race in which both horses broke the track record for 6 1/2 furlongs. Capt. Candyman Can breaks from post 2 under Javier Castellano.

"He's got enough speed, he's going to be very tractable," trainer Ian Wilkes said. "Javier knows him. He's just got to let him find his legs in the race and be where he's comfortable."

Vineyard Haven is the wildcard in the King's Bishop. He has not run since finishing fourth in the UAE 2000 Guineas in Dubai in February. In Dubai, Vineyard Haven was training over a synthetic surface which he didn't seem to like. Since returning to North America and training on the dirt at Belmont Park, he has shown signs of life.

"He's a different horse training over dirt tracks," said Rick Mettee, the assistant trainer for Godolphin Stable. "He's gotten progressively better. This is a tough race, there's pace in here. There's going to be fast early fractions and fast middle fractions."

Flat Bold also is turning back from 1 1/8 miles to seven furlongs, and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is hopeful that Ramon Dominguez can get the horse to relax and make one run.

"What Ramon has said is that you have to fight with him to relax going a mile and an eighth, mile and a sixteenth," McLaughlin said. "Most horses don't respond when you ask them to go. Going shorter, he shouldn't have to fight him and he'll settle toward the rear, and hopefully he kicks when asked."

Trainer Michael Trombetta sends out the uncoupled entry of Despite the Odds and Not for Silver, the latter having won the Grade 2 Carry Back at Calder last out.

Prince Joshua, winner of the Select Stakes at Monmouth three weeks ago, completes the field.

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