Drefong a clear favorite in Breeders' Cup Sprint

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Alastair Bull

November 2nd, 2017

Last time Drefong started at Del Mar, he threw his jockey off at the gap shortly after the start of the Bing Crosby Stakes (G1).

A repeat of that seems the most likely way he would be stopped from defending his Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) title.

Since finishing fifth on debut as a 2-year-old, Baoma Corporation’s Gio Ponti colt has won six races, including the King’s Bishop Stakes (G1, now the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes) and the Forego Stakes (G1) in addition to last year’s Breeders’ Cup triumph. His only defeat came with the Bing Crosby Stakes mishap.

Not only has Drefong been winning, there have been few times he’s been at all challenged. As good as the field is, they’ll need to improve to topple the divisional leader.

Drefong not only cost himself the Bing Crosby Stakes, he also stopped his toughest Breeders’ Cup TwinSpires Sprint rival Roy H. The riderless Drefong carted Roy H. very wide on the final turn, allowing Ransom the Moon to sneak along the rail and beat him.

Roy H., who spent most of his first two seasons running in allowances on turf, has found a new lease of life as a 5-year-old. He won his first two starts this year on turf, then was switched to dirt to win the True North Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park.

His Bing Crosby misfortune followed, after which he showed what he might have done that day by beating five others in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1). American Anthem, Ransom the Moon, and Giant Expectations return from that race to take him on again at Del Mar.

Imperial Hint has been another big improver this year and will look for six wins on end in the Sprint. That win stretch doesn’t include anything higher than grade 3, but he appears to be getting better and he broke the Parx six-furlong track record without being asked for his best in the Donald LeVine Memorial Stakes Sept. 4.

Three-year-old Takaful has shown very good form on the East Coast since being returned to sprints when he didn’t stay in two Kentucky Derby preps. In that time he’s won an allowance and the Vosburgh Stakes (G1), and finished second in the H. Allen Jerkens to Practical Joke.

Mind Your Biscuits returns after finishing third, promoted to second after the disqualification of Masochistic, in last year’s Sprint. Whitmore looked very good early in the year, though his form has dropped off a little since then. Calculator and B Squared complete the field.

Drefong is definitely the horse to beat, and he may be a horse that some punters use to anchor some exotic bets. Roy H., Imperial Hint, and Takaful look the most likely to take him down.