With his Eclipse Award for male sprinter awarded Jan. 21, Drefong joins Lost in the Fog (2005), Trinniberg (2012), and Runhappy (2015) as the only 3-year-olds who earned the honor this century.
In most cases the top male sprinter of the year has a “body of work” for the year that elevates him to the top honor. However, in the case of Drefong, it was brilliance in two career-defining efforts at the end of the year that landed him the Eclipse statue.
On May 30 and July 4, Drefong imposed his will on optional-claiming allowance runners at Santa Anita Park, winning both sprints by open-length margins and earning top-line Equibase Speed Figures.
Shipped to Saratoga Race Course, along with stablemate Arrogate, Drefong wound up being the 3-1 favorite for the Aug. 27 Ketel One King’s Bishop Stakes. Taking the field wire to wire going seven furlongs, he extended his advantage in the lane to two lengths at the eighth pole and 31/4 at the wire under Mike Smith in 1:21.25.
Drefong, after being off 10 weeks, won the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint by 1 1/4 lengths over a small but select field.
Bred by Frederick Allor, Michael Barnett, and Anthony Warrender, Drefong was sold by Barnett’s Blackburn Farm for $200,000 as a weanling and purchased by Susan Chu’s Tanma Corp. as a $450,000 Keeneland September yearling in 2014. Thirty-six yearlings from the first crop of three-time champion Gio Ponti were sold at Keeneland that year and Drefong was the highest-priced.
“(Bloodstock agent) Donato Lanni and I work together,” trainer Bob Baffert said after the Breeders’ Cup. “We don’t do anything without each other’s OK. This horse was so beautiful. He was a perfect specimen.”—Evan Hammonds