A confirmed sprinter throughout his entire career, Drefong came from quite a lineage. Campaigned by the Baoma Corporation and sired by champion turf runner Gio Ponti, this bay horse descended from equine legends like Alydar, Native Dancer, and Secretariat.

Unlike those grand champions of the sport, Drefong never tried routing. But it really didn't matter, for he put his penchant for running fast to good use. And when he was retired, he was able to call himself a champion.

Going by the family tree, Drefong appeared to have the look of a horse who could find the winners' circle quickly. He did exactly that, arriving there in just his second start. That came at Del Mar in November 2015, and Drefong would become well acquainted with appearing in front of a camera after that day.

Coming back to the races the following spring, Drefong picked up right where he left off, winning a pair of allowance optional claiming contests at Santa Anita. He would experience nothing but victory for the rest of the year, ultimately rattling off a five-race winning streak that featured victories in the Grade I King's Bishop (now the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial) Stakes at Saratoga as well as the biggest victory of his career: the Grade I Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Despite never being entered in a route, Drefong was not a one-dimensional Thoroughbred. Capable of setting the pace early, he was not a need the lead type of horse. He had no problem tracking an early leader if necessary. But he was not afraid to duel with the opposition, either. And once Drefong was clearly ahead in the stretch, second place was the best result his opponents could achieve.

But there was more to Drefong's repertoire other than just his variety of running styles. His ability to win Grade I races on different tracks was another strength, as was being able to successfully handle various distances. All of those elements contributed to Drefong being named Champion Sprinter at the Eclipse Awards, and that allowed him to join family members Ghostzapper and Gio Ponti as a divisional champion. He was also one of two horses from trainer Bob Baffert's barn to be an Eclipse Award winner that year, the other being 3-Year-Old champion Arrogate.

Reappearing in the summer of 2017, Drefong's winning streak stopped in the Bing Crosby Stakes when rider Mike Smith was unseated just a few seconds into the race. But Drefong regrouped when he returned to Saratoga, winning the Grade I Forego Stakes at seven furlongs by daylight in what was a similar performance to the King's Bishop one year prior. And just like after the King's Bishop, Drefong would wait until the autumn to race again, and that meant defending his title in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

The scene for the Sprint was Del Mar, which gave Drefong a chance for another Del Mar victory after the disappointment in the Bing Crosby. But a repeat as champion was not in the cards, for Drefong spent much of the race in mid-pack before finishing sixth.

Retired after the Sprint, Drefong put together a record of six wins in nine starts, and he did so with Martin Garcia and Mike Smith in the saddle. He also owns one of the fastest times in the history of the King's Bishop at 1:21.25, and he stands alongside his grandsire, Tale of the Cat, as a winner of that race (Tale of the Cat captured the 1997 renewal). His overall career may not have been very long, but Drefong accomplished a lot in that span of time to become one of the champion Thoroughbreds in his family.

These days, Drefong is a stallion in Japan. When his progeny begins racing, several of them might be talented sprinters like he was. And maybe Drefong will win many stakes in Japan and the United States to add to his total from when he competed at some of the sport's premier tracks.

It is not uncommon for a champion to sire another champion, and Gio Ponti did that with Drefong. But unlike Gio Ponti, who won his Eclipse Awards for racing on turf and for his work as an older horse, Drefong went a different path. He excelled at shorter distances on the dirt, whereas his sire liked going long on the grass. It made for an interesting juxtaposition, but there can be no denying a champion's form was imbued in his son.

And Drefong proved to be a worthy champion.

Entry added November 16, 2020. AF