Forego the wait, ladies and gentlemen.
The rematch is on.
What many fans monitored all summer long – Mind Your Biscuits dominating the east coast while his arch rival, Drefong, bade his time out west – was meant to culminate in a rematch on November 4 in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint Championship at Del Mar. The revenge race that we’ve eagerly awaited is finally here – albeit two and a half months earlier than anticipated – in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Forego at Saratoga Race Course.
To his credit, owner/trainer Chad Summers has had Biscuits firing on all cylinders since finishing third behind Drefong in last year’s event at Santa Anita. Less than two months later, Biscuits returned to the site of his defeat and used his late kick to ru down a strong field (including Sharp Azteca) in the Grade 1 Malibu. Successive springtime stops in Miami (second in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint) and Dubai (first in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen) prepared him for an explosive summer. His strong efforts recently culminated in winning the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship, a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In qualifier that awarded Biscuits an all-fees-waived and guaranteed entry into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint Championship.
Meanwhile, Drefong seemed to be enjoying an extended California vacation. Trainer Bob Baffert gave his star sprinter a well-deserved break following the win, but after eight months, the long layoff began to cause concern amongst the racing world. No need to worry, Baffert assured the world while announcing Drefong’s entry into the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar on July 29. Nearly everyone believed him, sending Drefong away at odds of 9-5 from post 2.
Then this happened.
Some joked that Drefong had simply spent too much time in the California sun and had forgottten which way he was supposed to run. Others wondered openly what kind of a toll the break had taken and if he could rebound back to his old form.
Meanwhile, in the past two weeks, Biscuits went from training like a sure thing to suddenly looking like anything but when a work on August 11 caused Summers to rethink running in the Forego and reconsider if Biscuits was ready for his biggest challenge of the year.
The time has come for answers to not only those questions, but also who will exit this race as the nation’s clear-cut, number one-ranked dirt sprinter, and who better to provide insight on Biscuits’ chances for revenge than the man who knows him better than anyone?
“All he has to do to win the Forego is replicate the same race that he ran in the Belmont Sprint,” Summers said. “He doesn’t have to improve off of the last race, he just has to maintain it.”
A change in scenery immediately improved Biscuits’ spirits, and it was because of the rapid response that Summers knew he would be fine for the Forego.
“He was not acting like himself,” Summers said. “I think it was the barn where he was stabled. We’ve since rectified that. It was non-stop noise. It was never a physical issue; it was just the way he was acting. When a horse breezes a minute, and comes home in 23, most people say he worked great, but just knowing him like we know him … he wasn’t himself. From what we’ve seen since, he’s doing well. He’s very, very happy.”
Summers is quick to acknowledge that, despite the Bing Crosby mishap, Drefong looms large over the field, but he said that he felt “completely slighted” when morning line oddsmaker Travis Stone put Biscuits as the second favorite (5/2) behind his formidable foe (2-1).
“It’s completely out of touch,” Summers said. “If you look at English bookmakers who have a better pulse on the situation, they have Biscuits as the 11/10 favorite. One of them has us at even money. I have a lot of respect for Drefong and Bob Baffert and Mike Smith and the connections, but at the same time, he has not finished a race since the Breeders’ Cup last November. To come here in a Grade 1, 7/8 (of a mile), off the bench, against a quality field? With what Biscuits has already done this year, what he did last time out in a 7/8 (of a mile) race here in New York against some of the same horses we’re running against again? It seems a little out of sorts.”
Shortly after Stone tweeted out the morning lines, fans were quick to voice unsolicited opinions. One in particular seemed irksome:
Someone told me Drefong should be 4-5!
— Travis Stone (@TravisStone) August 24, 2017
“It was a bit of a surprise when the morning line maker went on Twitter and said that,” Summers said. “Seems a little bit silly. People can bet on whoever they want. The longer odds we have, the more people are going to make money.”
Never short on confidence in his champion colt, Summers isn’t afraid of a field that seems short on frontrunners, but should he be? According to TimeFormUS, only Drefong has any early speed; Biscuits will most likely rate in midpack with most of the competition. Similar pace scenarios allowed Drefong to beat Biscuits (and everyone else) in both the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Sprint and the King’s Bishop.
Pacesetting horses usually prefer starting closer to the rail because it creates a smaller chance of being pushed out wide into the turn; this is especially crucial when sprinting around one turn. However, the King’s Bishop two came after Drefong broke from the far outside post (12), which he will replicate on Saturday (10). While that starting spot might spook some trainers, Summers doesn’t believe it has much of a chance at affecting Drefong and jockey Mike Smith.
“While there’s a long run to that turn, hopefully some of the jockeys will make Mike work a little bit to get over to the inside and make it a little bit more difficult for him to get over,” Summers explained. “That being said, he had post 12 and still went :23 in the opening 1/4 (mile) in the Breeders’ Cup.”
The rest of the field is strong enough that Summers felt confident that it would be the most competitive of the day.
“From A to Z, it’s a pretty stacked race,” he said. “I’m a little partial, but I do think it’s the best race on the card.”
Here’s how Summers views the competition:
- “Divining Rod looks like he could be a nice horse. I don’t think Arnaud Delacour would run the horse back this quick if he wasn’t happy with how he was doing. He ran well last time out, but it’s probably a little too quick for him” (to turn around after winning an allowance race at Laurel Park on August 12).”
- “Ross has run some good races in the past. We saw him at Dubai against Sharp Azteca (in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile). He’s one that could be interesting.”
- “Tommy Macho always seems to show up and run his ‘A’ race. I wish he was running out of town.”
- “We watch Awesome Slew run every day in the morning time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.”
- “You have to respect Tom’s Ready. (Trainer) Dallas (Stewart) always has horses ready to run on big days.”
Though Summers predicts that Biscuits will go off at or close to odds of 8-5, he said that he doesn’t mind the odds when it’s go time.
“I don’t pay attention to what the betting public says until the race is over,” Summers said. “The odds are supposed to reflect what your horse’s chances are, but we spend tireless hours in the barn and we know when Biscuits is ready.
“Those that support us make more money, and those that don’t support us make less.”
Stay tuned next week and all year long as racingdudes.com follows Chad Summers and Mind Your Biscuits on their quest for vengeance in the Grade 1, $1,500,000 Breeders’ Cup Sprint on November 4, 2017.
Next week’s story: “Forego Fallout: Chad Summers Profile #7” when we break down the results of the Grade 1 Forego and Biscuits’ long-awaited rematch with Drefong.
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