Drefong Crushes Forego Competition
By Claire Novak, courtesy Blood-Horse
After making his mark on Saratoga Race Course with a powerful score in the 2016 Ketel One King's Bishop Stakes (G1), Baoma Corporation's champion sprinter Drefong returned to the Spa Aug. 26 and romped in the $600,000 Forego Stakes (G1).
Finishing seven furlongs in 1:21.12, less than 2/5 off the track record, the 4-year-old son of Gio Ponti rebounded from dropping Hall of Famer Mike Smith last out in the July 29 Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) at Del Mar, and ran straight and true for a gate-to-wire score.
"We just saw the real Drefong," Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said. "You would have seen him last time if Mike Smith hadn't fallen off. It's a good thing that everything turned out alright because otherwise, I would have never brought him to the Forego."
Rocketing straight to the lead from the outside post 10 and putting up easy fractions of :22.89 and :45.58, Drefong carried on through three-quarters in 1:08.92 and increased his advantage through the stretch to finish four lengths clear of runner-up Awesome Slew.
"I was hoping that he would run like he did last year here," Smith said. "He really likes that summer breeze here. I knew that he was liking it today and I was just thinking positive. I think he ran even better than last year."
Drefong returned $4.30, $3.90, and $3.20 as the even-money choice in a field of 10. Awesome Slew brought $9.90 and $6.50, while Tom's Ready paid $12.60. The order of finish was completed by Divining Rod, Tale of S'avall, Mind Your Biscuits, Tommy Macho, Stallwalkin' Dude, Very Very Stella, and Ross.
"He's a great horse and he's always been a champion," Baffert said. "When he hit that third gear there, I was really happy, and happy to hear the cheers."
Drefong dove into deep waters in the King's Bishop last year, making his stakes debut at the top level after winning three straight in Southern California. He shipped for the first time, aced the grade 1 test, and returned to California to claim the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) and clinch his championship title.
That Nov. 5 event was his final race until the Bing Crosby debacle. In his 2017 debut, Drefong ducked in sharply into the gap as he came out of the chute in the six-furlong sprint, lost Smith, and carried on without injury. With his Forego win, he earned an automatic return trip to the Breeders' Cup Sprint, to be held this year Nov. 4 at Del Mar.
"We put a lot of time into that horse," Baffert said. "We gave him a lot of time off (almost nine months) and brought him back. It was a lot of patience there. To bring him back to the Breeders' Cup we wanted to get two good runs in him. Sometimes things work out for the best. This was pretty exciting. He's a beautiful horse."
Drefong was bred in Kentucky by Frederick M. Allor, Michael T. Barnett, and Anthony M. Warrender out of the unraced Ghostzapper mare Eltimaas. He sold for $200,000 to Woods Edge Farm as a weanling consigned by Blackburn Farm to the Keeneland November 2013 breeding stock sale. Tanma Corp., a division of racing interests for Baoma Corp. owners Charles and Susan Chu, acquired him for $450,000 from the Woods Edge consignment to the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale. With the Forego win, he improved his record to six wins from eight starts, with earnings of $1,523,385.
"I'll probably get him home and maybe run him at Santa Anita. We'll bring him back home and play it by ear," Baffert said.
Eltimaas, acquired by Machmer Hall for $77,000 from agent Blackburn Farm at the Keeneland November 2013 breeding stock sale, is in foal to Into Mischief . Her 2017 Candy Ride half sister to Drefong will be offered Nov. 6 at the Fasig-Tipton November sale.