Drefong (2) had Mind Your Biscuits (6) over a length back in third when winning this race last year. He’s had an even lighter campaign so far in 2017. The four-year-old managed to dump jockey Mike Smith soon after the start on his comeback in July. A month later at Saratoga, the partnership stayed intact and he blew away a Grade 1 field at Saratoga. Getting away with easy fractions may have flattered him but he’ll be tough to beat if he runs the same race. Drefong had to mix it on the front end last year and has a couple of likely pace partners here. One of them is Imperial Hint (10). His evolution into a top sprinter started last December. He’s now on a six timer. He’s never met anything on the quality of Drefong when rattling up a stakes four-timer. However, he has been running very swift times and winning by open lengths.
The Shadwell-owned Takaful (7) seems the most talented of a trio of three-year-olds entered. He’s looked much improved since a break in spring and summer and being cut back from two turn races. At Saratoga in August, he ran super the way the race was run when second in a Grade 1 over seven furlongs. Over today’s trip a month later he went one better. Like Imperial Hint, he has a stalking gear in him. The problem for both riders is if they sit just off the defending champion, there’s a big chance he goes wire to wire.
Ransom the Moon (9) was the main beneficiary when Drefong was unseated in July. He followed up that Grade 1 victory with a below par effort in another one on his return last month. Maybe he was a bit undercooked. The winner of that event was ROY H (8). He’s a late-blooming five-year-old. If the favourite cracks after a speed duel, he’s likely to be in the right spot. Further back early will be Mind Your Biscuits (6). He put in a rare dull effort when never a factor behind Drefong at Saratoga. Forgive that effort and you have a talented late runner who could get fast fractions to chase down. He’s a two-time Grade 1 winner including one over this distance in Dubai.
American Pastime (3) is another progressive three-year-old. He ran second in a deep Grade 3 at Parx last time.
Selection: ROY H (8)
Exotic Play: (no exotics)