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The first Grade 1 event of the summer season at Del Mar Race Track, the Grade 1, $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes, is also a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $1.5 million TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint here on November 4. The race will go as the ninth of a fantastic Saturday card where the surf meets the turf.
Drefong, the defending champion in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, tops the entries as he makes his first start since November. Drefong has been working strongly for the comeback, including three straight bullet works: two at Santa Anita preceding a 6-furlong (the Crosby distance) drill in 1:11.2 on July 19. On Tuesday, he drilled a 1/2-mile in :47.60.
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Adding intrigue to the event is the comebacking Big Macher and Santa Anita graded sprint stakes winners Denman’s Call and Ransom the Moon.
Big Macher won the Bing Crosby Stakes in 2014 and has competed in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in two of the past three years. The 7-year-old California-bred son of Beau Genius trained by Richard Baltas returned from a 19-month layoff to win the ungraded Thor’s Echo at Santa Anita on June 11.
#2 Drefong – The Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner finally returns today after a 266-day layoff. There’s no doubt that he enjoys time off between races, but this is the longest layoff of his young career. The Bob Baffert-trained colt has won five of six races lifetime. As of now, Mind Your Biscuits is the number one-ranked sprinter in the country, but it’s important to note that Drefong has two victories over him. A win here could catapult him right back to the number one spot, but this field will not be an easy one to defeat. Baffert will need to have him ready to fire a big one (unlike Arrogate last week) if he wants to win this race. Usually, Baffert is great at this, and based on his recent workouts, he’s ready to fire a big race.
#3 St. Joe Bay – He rode a three-race winning streak into Dubai last time out in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen. Of course, that race was won by fellow American Mind Your Biscuits, but don’t forget about St. Joe Bay finishing fourth in that spot, only beaten 3 1/2 lengths. That effort has been pushed aside, but considering how Mind Your Biscuits has come back, don’t take it lightly. For that reason, he’s the one with the biggest chance to upset Drefong here.
#4 Ransom the Moon – A high-quality horse who has won two of three races this year, he barely lost to Danzing Candy last time in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes at Santa Anita. Danzing Candy was unbelievable in that one and Ransom the Moon was too good to lose. If he can repeat that kind of effort, he’ll win this one, but can he do that two times in a row? He should be in with a big chance, though, and is one that you have to play in multi race wagers.
#8 Roy H – He’s a winner of three races in a row, including the Grade 2 True North Stakes at Belmont Park last time out. That race opened a lot of people’s eyes, as the California based horse shipped all the way to Belmont to pick up a huge victory. This could be a situation of the horse coming along at just the right time, or it could have been a fluke. I think it’s more of him coming around at the right time, although I do think that this race is a bit harder than what he faced in New York. I’ll be using him, though, as that race was too strong to ignore.
#10 Kobe’s Back – Let’s face it, he really needs a pace meltdown to have a shot at winning. He still has value as a race horse, but he drops so far back that he will always be a victim of the pace. The good news for him is that there could be a battle up front, but I question if the 6-year-old horse still has enough turn of foot to get it done. He’s a good underneath candidate, but not one to put on top.
#11 Moe Candy – After reeling off three straight allowance victories, Moe Candy jumped up to graded stakes company in his next three races, finishing second in two of them. It’s an encouraging sign that he can run at this level, but 2 1/4 lengths is the closest he’s been to actually winning. He’ll be a solid underneath play once again, but he might not be able to match up with the best horses in this spot.
#5 Big Macher – The 2014 Bing Crosby winner is back to give it another go! Last time out, he returned off of an eye-catching 567-day layoff to win a Cal-bred stakes at Santa Anita. He’s now 7 years old, but the fashion in which he won that race makes him intriguing here. Even though there was no doubting that he was better than the horses he faced in that spot, he beat them so easily and may once again be ready for primetime competition. His connections deserve credit for being patient with him, and that patience might pay off here.
#1 Denman’s Call – He pulled a big upset when winning the Triple Bend three races back, but he’s been beaten badly in his last two races. The cutback to 6 furlongs will help, but this field is loaded. He may not be able to handle the competition.
#9 Solid Wager – He’s been racing against some very tough competition recently but hasn’t been all that successful. Cutting back in distance could help him out a bit, but he’s probably just in over his head.
#6 Magic Taste – Winning a starter allowance race last time out gave him his second win in an eye-popping 27 starts. He’s a very odd entry to this race.
#7 Coastline – Entered last time out in the San Carlos as a rabbit for stablemate Ransom the Moon, it’s going to be more of the same here. He looks to be a cut below the better horses in this division.
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