2016 Champion Sprinter Drefong, Co-Bred By Virginian Anthony Warrender, To Compete In July 29 Bing Crosby Stakes

2016 Champion Sprinter Drefong was co-bred Frederick Allor, Michael Barnett and Anthony Warrender, who is from Middleburg, Virginia. This story previews the July 29th Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar and appeared on bloodhorse.com.

If not for his gray stablemate’s late-season ascension, Baoma Corporation’s Drefong would have been the brightest rising star of 2016.

Drefong’s rise—albeit in the sprint division and a bit more stretched out in time—in many ways mirrored Arrogate‘s. Both lost their respective debuts for trainer Bob Baffert, then came back to win their second start. Next came a pair of conditional allowance wins apiece and a trip to Saratoga Race Course.

Drefong will make his 2017 season debut in a Bing Crosby Stakes field of 11 on July 29th. Photo by Eclipse Sportswire.

While Arrogate’s record-setting Travers (G1) victory stole the headlines, Drefong put in a standout performance of his own that day in the Ketel One King’s Bishop (G1), where he sped to a 3 1/4-length victory.

NOVAK: Drefong Gallops Home to King’s Bishop Score

Arrogate owned the spotlight again with a victory over eventual Horse of the Year California Chrome   in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), but Drefong put in his own top performance when he defeated three current or eventual grade 1 winners in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).

NOVAK: Drefong Gives Baffert Fifth BC Sprint

Now, a week after his high-profile stablemate threw in a clunker in the San Diego Handicap (G2), the champion sprinter of 2016 will look to avoid a similar fate in the $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) July 29 at Del Mar.

In his first start since the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Baffert has concerns regarding Drefong’s fitness off a layoff and would prefer an outside post (he drew No. 2, just outside fellow grade 1 winner Denman’s Call), but has been encouraged by the Gio Ponti   colt’s training.

“He’s been training well, but you still have to get a race into him,” said Baffert, who also indicated Drefong could get a start in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) in October before he defends his Breeders’ Cup Sprint title. “He looks fantastic, but I would have liked to get a little prep into him off a long layoff like that. With some good horses in there, he’s going to have to run from the inside.”

The Hall of Fame trainer said nothing specific physically led to the extended layoff for Drefong. He was considering a run in the Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored By Gulf News (G1) in March, but decided against it because he didn’t feel the colt would handle the distant trip well.

“I was thinking about taking him to Dubai, but I didn’t think he’d like the shipping,” Baffert said. “So I just stopped on him and gave him a few months. But he never left the barn.”

Ten horses have been entered to challenge Drefong, including six graded winners and a few who are entering the race in top form.

The most impressive recent winner was Rockingham Ranch’s Roy H, who shipped to Belmont Park off back-to-back conditional allowance wins at Santa Anita Park and won the True North Stakes (G2) by 2 1/2 lengths for trainer Peter Miller.

BALAN: Roy H Invades Belmont, Takes True North

Earlier in the season, the Miller standout in the sprint division was Altamira Racing Stable and David Bernsen’s St. Joe Bay, who won the Midnight Lute (G3) and Palos Verdes (G2) back to back before he shipped to Dubai and ran fourth in the Golden Shaheen. The Bing Crosby will be his first start since his trip overseas.

Miller’s Bing Crosby trio is completed by Solid Wager, who also won the Midnight Lute via dead heat with his stablemate, but hasn’t won in four starts since.

Big Macher provides a blast from the Bing Crosby past for trainer Richard Baltas. The California-bred Beau Genius gelding earned Baltas his first grade 1 win in the 2014 Bing Crosby, and the trainer specifically targeted this year’s edition with a prep in the June 11 Thor’s Echo Handicap at Santa Anita. Big Macher won the Thor’s Echo, but should enter Saturday cranked for his best with a race underneath him.

“He does have a special place (in my heart). I love the horse,” Baltas said of the 7-year-old bay. “He’s my first grade 1 winner, he took us to Dubai (for the 2015 Golden Shaheen), he took us to the Breeders’ Cup—he’s brought a lot of joy to our lives and really kicked things off for me.”

Another looming threat is the Doug O’Neill-trained Denman’s Call, who will race on his home Southern California soil after two unsuccessful trips out of town. After a 16-1 upset win in the March 11 Triple Bend Stakes (G1), the Northern Afleet   gelding ran seventh in the Churchill Downs Stakes Presented by Twinspires.com (G2) and 10th in the Mohegan Sun Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont.

Other graded winners in the field include May 20 Kona Gold (G2) victor Ransom the Moon, who came in second to Danzing Candy last time out in the San Carlos Stakes (G2); and four-time graded winner Kobe’s Back, who will look to end a five-race winless streak.

Bing Crosby S. (G1)

Del Mar, Saturday, July 29, 2017, Race 9
  • 6f
  • Dirt
  • $300,000
  • 3 yo’s & up
  • 6:10 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Denman’s Call (KY) Tyler Baze 123 Doug F. O’Neill
2 Drefong (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Mike E. Smith 123 Bob Baffert
3 St. Joe Bay (FL) Kent J. Desormeaux 121 Peter Miller
4 Ransom the Moon (ON) Flavien Prat 121 Philip D’Amato
5 Big Macher (CA) Rafael Bejarano 119 Richard Baltas
6 Magic Taste (KY) Tiago Josue Pereira 119 Marcelo Polanco
7 Coastline (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Jamie Theriot 119 Philip D’Amato
8 Roy H (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Paco Lopez 121 Peter Miller
9 Solid Wager (CA) Joseph Talamo 119 Peter Miller
10 Kobe’s Back (KY) Gary L. Stevens 119 Peter Eurton
11 Moe Candy (KY) Victor Espinoza 119 John W. Sadler