by Teresa Genaro
Trainer Bob Baffert wasn’t at Saratoga to see his champion sprinter Drefong on Saturday, but owner Susan Chu of Baoma was, and you got the sense that the resident of Boston wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Our whole family loves coming to Saratoga,” she said. “We come every year.”
Those visits are made sweeter when they center around a dominating horse, and for the second consecutive year, the Chus came to Saratoga and left with a Grade 1 trophy, as Drefong won the Forego this year after shipping west to take the King’s Bishop last year, his first graded stakes win.
As he does in all his races, Drefong went to the front and stayed there, maintaining an easy lead and cruising to victory by four lengths. The win was the first on the day for both jockey Mike Smith and Baffert, who teamed up to win the Travers (G1) later in the day with West Coast.
Last out Drefong and Smith had what could mildly be called a troubled trip. The four-year-old Gio Ponti colt ducked in and unseated Smith, breaking the horse’s five-race winning streak, which included last year’s Breeder’s Cup Sprint (G1). The win in the Forego assures Drefong’s spot in this year’s Sprint, as it was one of four “Win & You’re In” qualifying races on the Travers Day card.
“We just saw the real Drefong,” Baffert said by phone . “You would have seen him last time if Mike Smith hadn’t fallen off (in the Bing Crosby [G1] at Del Mar). But you know, if he hadn’t have done that, I probably never would have brought him up to the Forego. Sometimes things work out for a reason. He’s just a fast horse. He’s a beautiful, fast horse.”
“I’m so grateful we have such a good team,” Chu said. “Bob should be very proud of our Drefong today. Mike Smith did a wonderful job. Everybody in Bob’s stable makes our victories good.
“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.”
The Forego was Drefong’s second start of the year, and Baffert said that he’ll race one more time in California before the Breeders’ Cup. But given the horse’s success at Saratoga, it’s perhaps too bad that he can’t get another prep in here.
“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.”