SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Baoma Corporation’s Drefong returned to the sight of his coming-out party and dominated in similar fashion, wiring Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Forego Stakes.
The Forego was a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In race, giving Drefong an all-fees-waived entry into the Breeders’ Cup Las Vegas Dirt Mile on November 3 at Del Mar.
The 2016 Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion from California first made himself known to the rest of the world when he won the Grade 1 King’s Bishop (since renamed to the H. Allen Jerkens) here at Saratoga. The Bob Baffert trainee’s return to The Spa with jockey Mike Smith was just as sweet the second time around, especially considering his 2017 debut in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby was problematic from the start.
“We just saw the real Drefong,” 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. I was going to run him once there (in California), or maybe twice. I’d rather win the Forego than that other race. He’s a great horse and he’s always been a champion. When he hit that third gear there, I was really happy, and happy to hear the cheers.”
Awesome Slew used a corner-cutting maneuver and a late drive to get up for second but was never close to the leader, finishing 4 lengths back. Tom’s Ready used a similar trip and was up for third, a head in front of Divining Rod, with Tale of S’avall another neck back.
The much-anticipated showdown between Drefong and Mind Your Biscuits failed to live up to the hype, as the Chad Summers owned & trained colt never fired, finishing a disappointing sixth. Tommy Macho, Stallwalkin’ Dude, Very Very Stella, and Ross completed the order of finish.
“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’s win pushed his record to 8-6-0-0 and improved his career earnings to $1,523,385.
“We gave him a lot of time off and brought him back,” Baffert said. “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. I’ll probably get him home and maybe run him at Santa Anita. We’ll bring him back home and play it by ear.”
Drefong returned $4.30 to win, $3.90 to place, and $3.20 to show. Awesome Slew brought back $9.90 to place and $6.50 to show, while Tom’s Ready paid $12.60 to show.