By two-time grass champion Gio Ponti and out of a mare by Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)-winning Horse of the Year Ghostzapper (who happened to be a pretty good miler, too), there wasn’t necessarily a genetic blueprint for Drefong’s success as a dirt sprinter. However, the Bob Baffert trainee blazed his own trail at three and was rewarded with a male sprinter Eclipse Award off two stakes appearances.
Victorious in one of two starts as a juvenile, Drefong had a brief campaign of four starts in 2016. His first outings, allowance tests against older horses during Santa Anita’s spring-summer meet, proved to be relative walks in the park as Drefong won by 3 1/2 lengths and 5 1/4 lengths, respectively.
His first serious test came at the end of August in the seven-furlong King’s Bishop (G1) at Saratoga against fellow three-year-olds. Despite being saddled with post 12, Drefong seized control at the start, made his way to the inside, and proved uncatchable after setting a modest opening quarter of :23. The 3 1/4-length score proved popular in most quarters as the colt was sent off a mild 3-1 favorite.
Trained up to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita on November 5, Drefong was expected to be fourth choice behind older rivals Masochistic and stablemate Lord Nelson, who were also undefeated on the year, and A. P. Indian. Masochistic inherited the favorite’s role after Lord Nelson’s late withdrawal, while Drefong was sent off at nearly 4-1. It was a duel between those two for much of the six-furlong dash, but Drefong, who raced closer to the rail, found more in deep stretch and drew away to win by 1 1/4 lengths.
An intended start in the December 26 Malibu (G1) was forfeited after Drefong missed training due to an illness. Instead, the reigning champion is now being pointing toward the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) at Meydan in late March. His 2016 earnings were $1,170,800, and his overall mark is 6-5-0-0, $1,203,040.
Owned by Baoma Corporation, Drefong was bred in Kentucky by Frederick Allor, Michael Barnett, and Anthony War. He cost $450,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, and is out of Eltimaas, a half-sister to 2003 champion juvenile Action This Day.
Read more on the 2016 Eclipse Awards.