August Member of the Month
Harold “Hal” Queen reigns supreme when it comes to Drama—or, at least, horses bearing that name. The latest star from his top broodmare Riveting Drama—who also foaled Queen’s 2010 Eclipse champion sprinter and Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner Big Drama (by Montbrook)—took home her first grade I victory in the 1 ¼-mile Delaware Handicap on July 18. Florida-bred Sheer Drama, trained by David Fawkes, most recently won the Personal Ensign Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga on August 29, qualifying her for the October 30 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Keeneland. Now five years old, the homebred filly has improved her performance each year. “Well, she wants to go a mile and an eighth and a mile and a quarter,” Queen said, adding that, “as a two-year-old, we never got her started because she wasn’t ready to race.”
But taking time with this horse was necessary. “We had to because she just wasn’t mature physically or mentally, either one. She just wasn’t there, but she’s such a well-built filly. She has a beautiful stride to her,” he beamed. In September 2013, Sheer Drama set a new track record at Laurel Park, covering 1 1/6 miles on dirt in 1:41.79. At that point, Sheer Drama was in Tony Dutrow’s stable. Later transferred to Fawkes’ care, she’s since won or placed in five stakes—four graded—this year alone.
Sheer Drama is an exclamation point on her breeder-owner’s decades-long career in the game. Queen purchased her sire, Burning Roma, as a yearling in 1999, to pinhook, although he bought him back as a juvenile the next year. In 2000, the Rubiano colt won the Futurity (gr. I), en route to earnings of $1.5 million. He held court this year at Prestige Stallions in Ocala for $6,000.
For a decade, Queen has also reaped royal rewards from Riveting Drama (by Notebook), whom he purchased as a two-year-old in 1996 for $36,000. That investment proved to be a bargain, even though the filly bucked her shins multiple times and never raced. Queen figured she might make a good broodmare, but little did he know how good. He admitted, “Well, I was hoping of course, but no, I didn’t know, but if I matched her up the proper way, that we would get some excellent foals out of her.”
Besides Big Drama, who stands at Bridlewood Farm in Ocala, and Sheer Drama, Riveting Drama’s other foals include stakes winners Little Drama and Queen Drama—both full siblings to Sheer Drama—minor stakes winner Drama’s Way, and stakes-placed Coffee Can. Her triumphs don’t stop there, either. “I bred her to Kentucky sires a couple times, and then, when we moved to Florida, I bred her to a horse called Yes It’s True and sold that colt for $130,000 as a two-year-old in training” in 2005, said Queen. That foal, named Maltese Massive, didn’t become a stakes winner, but still earned $560,883 in Japan.
Although Big Drama achieved his best results as a sprinter, Queen pointed out that he didn’t suffer from distance limitations. In fact, the colt finished second in the 1 1/8-mile 2009 West Virginia Derby (gr. II), defeating Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Mine That Bird in the process. After Big Drama was injured in that race, “I brought him home and we had to rehab him, and it took us nine months to get him back to the races,” he recalled. The rest was history, as the colt became a star sprinter, but it took “time and patience,” said Queen. “Most people don’t want to give them the time and they don’t have the patience. But you have to.”
Queen maintained a farm in Lodi, Ohio for 37 years, until he moved to Ocala 12 years ago. “It’s great weather here and it’s so much better than Ohio,” he said of his purchase of 82 acres of the Nelson Jones Training Center. Queen lives about 10 minutes away from his farm and remains a hands-on owner-breeder. Of his commitment, he said, “It’s a lot of hard work. It’s seven days a week and most people don’t want to do that.”
He and his dedicated team board a number of horses for clients. That’s in addition to his own 10 broodmares, who produce about six or seven foals per year for him. Most of his stock resides in Florida with him—he has only five runners in training, including three juveniles by Big Drama. In 2014, Queen purchased a Big Drama-sired yearling, Dangerous Bend, for a sale-topping $185,000 at the August OBS yearling sale. Of his champion’s foals, he said, “They’ve been running, and I would expect them to run because they have very, very nice conformation.” It looks like the next generation of Queen-bred royals is shaping up to be proper heirs for their sire—and their breeder.
Congratulations to Harold Queen, TOBA's August members of the month!