You could play a “Defending Champion Pick-3” linking Finest City, Queen’s Trust, Drefong, who is favored in the Breeders Cup Sprint.
Audio – We previewed the Saturday races with Steve Falk.
Breeders Cup Sprint
Drefong is back to defend his title and caught a good field with a few wild cards that make his task formidable.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Drefong has won six of eight including the King’s Bishop / Sprint double last year and the Forego this year. In between, he ducked in the gap of the July 29th Bing Crosby here at Del Mar and tossed Mike Smith. Of those three big wins, two of those came in races where he controlled on the front end via a moderate pace: last year’s King’s Bishop and this year’s Forego. That will not be the case here, which brings us directly to the race’s wild card, Imperial Hint.
Imperial Hint is Parx based with Luis Carvajal. He’s run five straight triple-digit Beyer figures, two since returning from Dubai where he got sick and had to miss the Golden Shaheen. Since then, he won the Smile Sprint in easy fashion and then crushed an overmatched field in a Parx overnight stakes with a 109 Beyer. He’s going to push Drefong and push him very hard from the opening bell, and he’s drawn much better up on the outside while Drefong got post 2.
Takaful will also be forwardly placed. The three-year old has won two of three races since returning to sprints this summer. Two-back, he cut the fractions and was only beaten by unbeaten one-turner Practical Joke in the Jerkens. Then last time, he ran huge in the Vosburgh, tracking the speedy El Deal and then outfinishing that rival after doing the dirty work. It was a sensational performance for a very talented runner. The question becomes can he deal with the two seasoned veteran speedsters and hold off any late runners? I wouldn’t put it past him, but ultimately won’t be using him.
Among the late runners is Whitmore, winner of the Phoenix last time. But that race was not aesthetically pleasing with a laboring stretch-run and a bunched finish. Whitmore seems like was much better at Oaklawn and hasn’t advanced this summer. Mind Your Biscuits is a wild card. His best race is certainly good enough, but he didn’t run a step in the Forego and hasn’t been seen since. The excuse was he didn’t thrive as well at Saratoga and has trained better since then, but you’re taking something of a leap of faith to think he gets right back to his best form.
Another other top closer is American Pastime, who has started just six times, with three wins including an allowance win two-back at Del Mar and then was just beaten in the Gallant Bob last time at Parx with a 105 Beyer. Coal Front, the front-running winner, is hurt, but Petrov, who finished third, did return to win a Keeneland allowance (though his figure fell five points). He had trouble at the start that day, and while he was on the best part of the track, he’s also improving, has won at the track, and will get pace in a race that often goes to lightly raced up-and-comers.
Finally, Roy H would be on a three race win streak if not carried out very wide by a riderless Drefong in the Big Crosby. He is probably the most likely upset threat, though he won’t be a great price.
#8 Roy H (7/2)
#3 American Pastime (12/1)
#10 Imperial Hint (9/2)
#2 Drefong (5/2)