Quick—who is the all-time leading trainer of Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) winners? It’s Hall of Famer Bob Baffert with four; he won his first in 1992 with Thirty Slews, a few years before he made a real name for himself training classic winners.
Well, the silver-haired Baffert has two for the Nov. 5 TwinSpires Sprint at Santa Anita Park in 3-year-old Drefong and Spendthrift Farm’s Lord Nelson , and both are local products with multiple starts over the surface of the Arcadia, Calif. track.
Conventional wisdom suggests a West Coast-based horse might have the edge in the six-furlong Sprint, but historic results tell us otherwise. In 11 previous Breeders’ Cup World Championships in Southern California, only five winners made their previous start at either Santa Anita, or in the case of Midnight Lute in 2008, Del Mar.
Drefong, by Gio Ponti , drilled fellow 3-year-olds while on the front end in Saratoga’s Ketel One King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I) at seven furlongs in his lone stakes try. A steady diet of bullet works should have him sharp enough off the 10-week layoff, but he faces plenty of talent here that starts with his stablemate.
Lord Nelson has been perfect in four 2016 starts and his past three wins have come in grade I company in the Triple Bend, Bing Crosby, and Santa Anita Sprint Championship stakes.
“He worked three-quarters and he worked really well,” Baffert said of Lord Nelson’s 1:12 move Oct. 26. “It’s a tough race—there are a bunch of undefeated horses in there. This Breeders’ Cup is probably one of the strongest Breeders’ Cup years I’ve ever seen.”
The other West Coast-based runner is the well-positioned Masochistic. The 6-year-old gelding trained by Ron Ellis, has made only two starts since last year’s Sprint at Keeneland and was a strong winner of Del Mar’s Pat O’Brien Stakes (gr. II) last time out as the 1-5 favorite. Based on past performances, he’ll be battling with Drefong throughout the opening half-mile.
If the locals don’t hold that strong of a home court advantage then that makes A. P. Indian all the more dangerous.
The Green Lantern Stables’ homebred son of Indian Charlie is six-for-six this year, dominating the two grade I races at Saratoga. He then was pointed toward Belmont’s Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) but was scratched when the track came up sloppy Oct. 1. A quick detour to Keeneland for the following weekend’s Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes (gr. II) resulted in a traffic-weaving nose victory over Sprint hopeful Limousine Liberal after breaking from the rail.
Not one who needs the lead, A. P. Indian may have an additional edge with the short field for the Sprint so there won’t be as much traffic to negotiate as there would be if field that is far from its capacity of 14.
Of the others, sophomores Noholdingback Bear and Mind Your Biscuits bounced back after going down to defeat in the King’s Bishop to run one-two, respectively, in Parx Racing’s Gallant Bob Stakes (gr. III). Parx’ former name was Philadelphia Park, the site of Smile’s final prep before taking the 1986 Sprint at Santa Anita.
Santa Anita Park, Saturday, November 05, 2016, Race 6
- 3 yo's & up
- 1:21 PM (local)
|1||1Mind Your Biscuits (NY)||Joel Rosario||124||Robert N. Falcone, Jr.||20/1|
|2||2Drefong (KY)||Martin Garcia||124||Bob Baffert||7/2|
|3||3Delta Bluesman (FL)||Emisael Jaramillo||126||Jorge Navarro||15/1|
|4||4Joking (KY)||Manuel Franco||126||Charlton Baker||15/1|
|5||5A. P. Indian (KY)||Joe Bravo||126||Arnaud Delacour||4/1|
|6||6Lord Nelson (KY)||Flavien Prat||126||Bob Baffert||5/2|
|7||7Masochistic (CA)||Mike E. Smith||126||Ronald W. Ellis||2/1|
|8||8Noholdingback Bear (KY)||Eurico Rosa Da Silva||124||Michael P. De Paulo||15/1|
|9||9Limousine Liberal (KY)||Jose L. Ortiz||126||Ben Colebrook||15/1|