2017 Breeders' Cup Sprint Expert Picks with Odds and Betting Predictions
The last time we had a defending champion win the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Bob Baffert was the trainer. Midnight Lute won the race in 2007, ran only once before the Breeders' Cup in 2008, and added a second title. It was an unconventional path, but Beffert obviously liked it. This year Drefong is back after winning last year for Baffert, and he has just one race since his big win (sort of two starts, but more on that later). Baffert has the slightly bizarre recipe for success, but Midnight Lute is the only horse to win the Sprint, which is typically the most volatile and unpredictable race on the card, twice.
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Can lightning strike again for Baffert? Or will another horse in this small-but-talented field have their day? Here's how the top of this very interesting field holds up:
Drefong, 5/2: As I said earlier, Drefong technically had two races - or at least starts. He looked to make his debut here at Del Mar in the Bing Crosby at the end of July, but he lost his rider early and was done. He came back a month later at Santa Anita and got a real race - and a nice win. He won the Forego by four lengths, though not against a particularly impressive field. It was his sixth straight win in just seven career finished races. The horse is wildly talented, and he is working very well - he has fired bullets in his last two works - so he's a clear factor here. The pace could get crazy in this race, which is a concern for this horse, but he has been working on that lately. He's very talented, Baffert is deadly in big races in California, and he ran a great race last time out despite the crazy circumstances. You are either with a horse like this or against him, and I'm more likely to be with him.
Roy H, 7/2: This is a former turf sprinter who made the move to dirt this summer, and it was clearly the right move. He has two wins, including a G1 at Santa Anita last time out, and when he was second at Del Mar the other time he recovered nicely from being forced six wide around the final turn. His Beyer speed figure last time out is the best of any horse in the field, and he's obviously comfortable in California. If they are both at their best he's not beating Drefong, but he's a formidable contender.
Imperial Hint, 9/2: He's won five straight, his speed figures are strong, his last race was his career best, and he has fired bullets in his last three works. Sounds like a lock, huh? Of course there is a problem. He is taking a massive step up in class. He has just two graded stakes wins, and both were only grade 3s. His last race, while impressive, was only in an unlisted stakes race at Parx outside of Philadelphia. That's hardly the epicenter of racing. So, is he good enough? Your guess is as good as mine.
Mind Your Biscuits, 6/1: Every horse in this field has questions that make them so tough to figure out. After finishing third in this race last year, he has three wins, with two in G1 races including the Golden Shaheen on the Dubai World Cup undercard. But last time out in the Forego he was just awful. He didn't have any obvious problems, but he just had nothing to give down the stretch and was a very well-beaten sixth, finishing in a different timezone than winner Drefong. He has worked well since, but can we just cross that result off? Or is it an indication of bigger issues?
Ransom the Moon, 12/1: He has three wins in five starts this year, and his last win came two back in the G1 Bing Crosby here at Del Mar. He likes the track, and he's talented. His speed figures are a step behind the best, though, and his last race was a dismal effort. I'm not a fan.
Takaful, 5/1: After a very underwhelming trip on the road to the Triple Crown this spring he was reborn as a sprinter. He announced his relevance last time out in the Vosburgh at Belmont at the end of September, winning by a length to grab his first G1. He's not fast enough right now, but he's young and inexperienced and improving quickly. Interesting.
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