January 17, 2022

Drefong, Mind Your Biscuits square off in Forego; Brown runners loom large in Ballerina

Drefong made his stakes debut a winning one with a convincing tally in the King's Bishop (G1) August 27, 2016 (c) Adam Coglianese

Saturday’s $600,000 Forego (G1) at Saratoga features an exciting match-up between arguably the top sprinters on both coasts, Drefong and Mind Your Biscuits. They will square off over 7-furlongs in the “Win & You’re In” qualifier for the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Drefong broke from the far outside gate when annexing the King’s Bishop (G1) (now the Allen Jerkens Memorial) on last year’s Travers undercard and drew the outermost spot among 10 rivals Saturday. The son of Gio Ponti went on to add the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita and was named champion sprinter.

Bob Baffert waited until the July 29 Bing Crosby (G1) at Del Mar to bring his pupil back this year and it did not go as expected, with Drefong ducking in shortly after the start and dislodging jockey Mike Smith. He ran on afterward and thankfully emerged unscathed from the scary incident. He’s worked from the gate since and Smith will be back aboard the front-runner.

Mind Your Biscuits was no match for Drefong in the King’s Bishop last summer, but the chestnut has become much more formidable at age 4. His first Grade 1 tally, the Malibu (G1), came in late December and the Posse colt exits a pair of monster wins in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) and Belmont Sprint (G2). His BRIS Speed numbers are outstanding and Joel Rosario sticks with the late runner for Chad Summers.

Divining Rod will try to upend the top two betting choices after recording an eye-catching win in the August 12 Polynesian at Laurel Park, garnering a 106 BRIS Speed Rating for the 6 ¼-length decision. The 5-year-old possesses 3-2-0 mark from his last five starts and Javier Castellano takes over the reins for Arnaud Delacour.

Multiple graded winners Awesome Slew and Tommy Macho, the respective second- and third-place finishers in the Belmont Sprint, are also back for the Forego. Veteran stakes performer Stallwalkin’ Dude exits a nice win in the August 11 Tale of the Cat at the Spa and Tale of S’avall will step back up in class following an encouraging allowance/optional claiming score earlier in the meet.

Completing the field are Grade 2 scorer Tom’s Ready; recent claimer Very Very Stella; and overseas invader Ross.

Females can stamp their ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) in the $500,000 Ballerina (G1) a couple of races earlier on the program. The 7-furlong race feature a field of seven, including the intimidating pair of Carina Mia and Paulassilverlining from the Chad Brown stable.

Paulassilverlining is the likely favorite, opening the year with Grade 1 victories in the Madison at Keeneland and Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs before extending her win streak to four in the July 26 Honorable Miss (G2) last out. She doesn’t win by much, prevailing by a neck in her last three outings, but the classy 5-year-old Ghostzapper mare gets the job done. Jose Ortiz will be back in the saddle.

Grade 1 winner Carina Mia snapped a six-race losing skein when making her first start for Brown in the August 2 Shine Again at Saratoga, getting up from just off the pace, and the 4-year-old millionaire will try to carry her momentum forward with Castellano.

By the Moon just missed when second in this event last year and exits a rallying third in the Honorable Miss. The hard-hitting daughter of Indian Charlie has also recorded a pair of Grade 3 wins this season and Rajiv Maragh will guide.

Curlin’s Approval ships up from Florida after posting a 4 ½-length triumph in the Princess Rooney (G2) at Gulfstream Park. Completing the seven-horse line-up are Birdatthewire, Distinta and Highway Star.