The Breeders' Cup Sprint is an interesting race from a preps perspective in that in its history, many horses have had success skipping their final preps and coming here off a layoff instead. Bob Baffert saddled one of these layoff runners, Drefong, in last year’s running of this race, and this year he and Drefong look to make that feat a double.
Now a four-year-old, Drefong comes in from a different undercard race on Travers’ Day at Saratoga. Last year it was the King’s Bishop, this time around the Forego. He impressed in there for sure, but he had no competition at all for the lead. Things will surely be tougher for him this time around with other legitimate Grade 1 speed signed on.
Mind Your Biscuits, who also lined up in the Forego, will line up to oppose here again. He had an excuse of being outside on a day where the inside was good, and had purportedly not handled the ship to Saratoga well. His best race, when he walloped the field in the G1 Golden Shaheen in Dubai, would give him a chance.
Three-year-olds have a good record in the race and there are a few of them here. Practical Joke won the Allen Jerkens (as the King’s Bishop was rechristened this year) but appears more likely to contest the Dirt Mile. The pacesetter there, Takaful, is a serious sprinter who showed a new dimension last time in the Vosburgh, rating and winning nicely. American Pastime is another sophomore, and he ran well in the Gallant Bob at Parx last time, breaking slowly and nearly running down a loose leader.
Whitmore is a five-year-old who just got up in the Phoenix at Keeneland despite a wide draw, trouble and closing into a slow pace. This represents a big step up for him but he might have the finish to run into the frame at a price.
Imperial Hint has impressed clockers since he arrived in California. He ran a huge Beyer Speed Figure of 109 in a listed stake at Parx, and is unbeaten and untested in his last five open length wins. None of those came at higher than the G3 level though.
The two other main California contenders are Roy H and Ransom The Moon. Roy H was last seen winning the Santa Anita Sprint Championship rather easily. He showed his versatility earlier this season with a big win across the country in the True North on the Belmont stakes undercard. His stalk and pounce style could be ideal if he gets an outside draw.
His race two back, the Bing Crosby, must be discussed. That was the day Drefong ducked into the gap after the start, dumping Mike Smith and throwing the race into chaos. He ended up acting as a de facto blocker for Ransom The Moom, who won the race, by pushing Roy H wide. Ransom The Moon came back to run a stinker in the SA Sprint Championship, but if you forgive that, he’s not that far behind at big odds.
Verdict: As much as any Breeders’ Cup race, the draw is important in attempting to match contenders to prices. But Roy H and Ransom The Moon both offer at value at their current odds of 9-2 and 20-1 respectively.