March 24, 2023

Champion sprinter Drefong opens 2017 campaign in Bing Crosby

Drefong was all alone at the wire of the 2016 Sprint (Benoit Photos)

Unraced since a 1 ¼-length win in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Drefong will make a highly-anticipated return in Saturday’s $300,000 Bing Crosby (G1) at Del Mar. The reigning sprint champion will square off against 10 rivals in the 6-furlong test.

Since dropping his career bow, 4-year-old Drefong has won five straight for Bob Baffert, a four-time winner of the Bing Crosby.  The Gio Ponti colt registered a 105 BRIS Speed Rating posting a 3 ¼-length tally in the King’s Bishop (G1) two starts previously and a career-best 109 Speed last time.

Drefong has been training steadily since late May, recording 10 published workouts in preparation, and Mike Smith will retake the mount after riding another rival in the Breeders’ Cup.

While Drefong is expected to be a solid favorite, he does face a formidable opponent in Roy H. Conditioned by Peter Miller, Roy H extended his win streak to three with an eye-catching 2 ½-length tally in his stakes debut, the June 9 True North (G2) at Belmont Park. The More Than Ready gelding received a field-best 111 BRIS Speed and Paco Lopez will stick with the 5-year-old.

Miller has entered a trio and St. Joe Bay will make his first appearance since a respectable fourth to Mind Your Biscuits in the Dubai Golden Shaeen (G1) in late March. The 5-year-old has found his niche in sprint races, recording back-to-back wins in the Midnight Lute (G3) and Palos Verdes (G2) during the winter, and Kent Desormeaux will guide the speedster.

Ransom the Moon enters in good form for Phil D’Amato, posting a convincing win in the Kona Gold (G2) two back and finishing a neck second most recently to Danzing Candy in San Carlos (G2) at Santa Anita. His BRIS Speed numbers have risen substantially at age 5 and Flavien Prat retains the mount.

Big Macher, winner of the 2014 Bing Crosby, will make his second start back from a lengthy layoff. The Richard Baltas-trained gelding was sidelined nearly 19 months before returning with a one-length score over state-bred rivals in the June 11 Thor’s Echo at Santa Anita and the six-time stakes victor will keep Rafael Bejarano in the saddle.

Triple Bend (G1) winner Denman’s Call is back in the friendly confines of Southern California following a pair of unplaced efforts in the Churchill Downs Sprint (G2) and Met Mile (G1). Tyler Baze rides the Doug O’Neill trainee. Four-time graded winner Kobe’s Back brings back class to the festivities, but he’s winless from five starts since taking the 2016 San Carlos 17 ½ months ago.

Other runners include Grade 3 scorer Solid Wager from the Miller shedrow; Kona Gold runner-up Moe Candy; and Grade 2 runner-up Coastline.