David Fawkes outlined his plan - one he no doubt formulated well before the moment - under the warmth of the Saratoga sun minutes after Sheer Drama gamely turned back a couple of formidable foes to win the Grade 1 Personal Ensign in late August on the Travers Day undercard.
The plan was the same as always, ship the Burning Roma mare back to Florida, give her a little down time, get her cranked back up again and head back north to Kentucky for the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Not tempted by any lucrative purses or the urge to squeeze in a final prep during the more than two-month stretch between the Personal Ensign and Friday's $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff, Fawkes stuck to the plan.
Now Fawkes and Harold Queen, who bred and owns the 5-year-old Florida-bred, come to the Distaff with the perfect combination of freshness and a seasoning.
"She's coming into the race great, her last workout was great as you can see," Fawkes said Thursday morning outside Barn 68 in the Rice Road barn area at Keeneland.
Sheer Drama's last work before she made the more than 1,000-mile trek from Gulfstream Park to Lexington in Fawkes' horse trailer was indeed a strong move. She breezed 5 furlongs in a bullet :58.88, galloping out in 1:12 on Fawkes' stopwatch Oct. 21 at Gulfstream. Sheer Drama breezed another bullet in 1:00.26 17 days before that, also at Gulfstream.
"Like I said, she's done everything right in those two months," Fawkes said.
Sheer Drama's done almost as good on the racetrack this year, winning four of seven starts with three seconds. The three losses - coming in Grade 1, 2 and 3 stakes - were by a combined 3 3/4 lengths.
Fawkes concedes that even thought everything is going well for Sheer Drama, both in her preparations back home and her training here at Keeneland, plenty of major obstacles loom for the chestnut mare.
First she'll need to overcome her outside post - originally slated to be No. 14 but now one stall closer to the rail after the scratch of champion and 2014 Distaff winner Untapable. Then she'll need to top one of the strongest renewals of what is typically the most formful race of the two-day Breeders' Cup program, even with the defection of Untapable.
"It's a strong race, very evenly matched. Everybody's got a shot," Fawkes said. "It's a trip race and especially for me because I've got an outside post. If you get a clean trip around there I think you can do well. We have our plan and if it comes to light I think we have a huge shot."
Sheer Drama typically races just off the lead - she did it winning the Personal Ensign and Grade 1 Delaware Handicap in her last two starts - before engaging for the lead around the far turn.
The Distaff figures to have plenty of pace, with the likes of My Sweet Addiction, Stellar Wind, Stopchargingmaria, Wedding Toast, Yahilwa and Calamity Kate in the field. All that speed could leave stalkers like Sheer Drama, Curalina and I'm A Chatterbox in a tough spot if the pace collapses and possibly setting it up for closers like Got Lucky, Frivolous, Salama, Warren's Veneda and Peace And War.
Got Lucky finished second to Sheer Drama in the Personal Ensign and did run in between, winning the Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster Oct. 4 at Keeneland. She got up late to defeat Untapable, Yahilwa and Frivolous in the 1 1/8-mile Spinster and Fawkes pinpointed the Todd Pletcher-trained A.P. Indy filly as one to beat.
"Got Lucky really stepped up in that race (the Spinster)," he said. "Now, hopefully, she'll regress. But maybe she won't. Todd's don't regress a lot. I bet if you looked at numbers for all his horses he's probably the guy that regresses the least. I could be wrong, but they don't regress much.
"But at the same time there's a lot of good ones in there. Great field. If you win a race like this you've definitely got something."
Sheer Drama would be Fawkes' second Breeders' Cup winner if she gets it done in the Distaff, joining her half-brother and 2010 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Big Drama.
Big Drama overcame the No. 1 post to win the Sprint at Churchill Downs, spurting away from the field early and getting off the fence en route to a powerful 1 1/2-length victory.
Entries for Friday's Breeders' Cup Distaff.