Whitmore, Drefong, Mind Your Biscuits ... The list goes on

May 24, 2017 02:29pm

Saturday's Maryland Sprint was hailed as a showdown between two of the top sprinters in the land. I know, because I was one of those promoting it so. It lived up to the hype. Whitmore kept his unbeaten season going with a strong late rush which carried him to a popular half-length victory over A.P. Indian. The big two at Pimlico both ran big, as did the unheralded third-place finisher, Awesome Banner. As good as this race was, it is only a fraction of what the American Sprinting landscape looks like right now. The division is absolutely loaded. It promises to be a wild ride all the way to Del Mar for the 2017 Breeders' Cup Sprint. Let's take a look at some of the primary players ...

For sake of recency, let's talk Whitmore first. How good is the son of Pleasantly Perfect while sprinting? It's hard to say, because we really have not gotten to the bottom of the Ron Moquett trained star just yet. Seven starts at 6 1/2 furlongs or less, and he has been a dominant force in all. He's won those seven by a combined 25 lengths. Saturday was his first real test, and he passed with flying colors. Giving weight, and patiently handled, it always looked like just a matter of time before he would get to his talented competition. 

I cannot go to far down this list without mention of Drefong. Like Whitmore, he's four, but this guy already has a championship belt around his waist. After running out in his career debut, the Bob Baffert bullet has rattled off five straight impressive victories. He got it done last year on both coasts in the King's Bishop and the Breeders' Cup Sprint, which earned him the Eclipse Award. He's yet to run in 2017, but the good news is that he is back galloping in Southern California.

Please, let's not dismiss A.P. Indian too quickly. The eight-time stakes winner has finished first or second in 17-of-20 lifetime starts. But, with only two second-place finishes so far to start his 2017 campaign, some may say that the seven-year-old has lost a step. I don't know. Saturday's second-place finish to Whitmore, in which he battled on the lead all the way, which is slightly out of character for the veteran, was an awfully good effort. 

I'm on my fourth sprinter, and I still have not mentioned Mind Your Biscuits? Shame on me. This New York-bred might just be the best of the bunch. With a late run that looks like he's late for dinner, the son of Posse has been on a roll for Chad Summers since the Fourth of July. Closing strongly to get within 1 1/4-lengths of Drefong in last year's BC Sprint, he has won two of three since, and both were Grade 1. Last year's Malibu, and this year's Dubai Golden Shaheen clearly point him out as one of the top dirt sprinters anywhere in the world.

The horse that did beat Biscuits earlier this year, Unified, is certainly no slouch either. He disappointed as the favorite when second in last month's Grade 1 Carter, but that is his only blemish in five tries around one-turn. Look for him to bounce back in his third race off the layoff. Another talented one to tangle with Mind Your Biscuits, is the horse who just missed out in the Malibu. It's still unclear whether Sharp Azteca is a better sprinter or a miler, but either way, I believe the son of Freud deserves the mention. On his best, he could beat anyone.

We also should not forget about the top two from the Churchill Sprint. Limousine Liberal has been knocking on the door for a couple of years and finally broke through with a game win on Derby Day. Even better than him, in my opinion, is the horse he just held off, Awesome Slew. The talented son of Awesome Again knocked heads with plenty of good horses routing, but seems to have found a real home sprinting for his new home with Mark Casse. His big closing kick while sprinting was on display in both a win over A.P. Indian in the Commonwealth Stakes, and in just missing last time at Churchill Downs.

There's bound to be some three-year-olds ready to soon join this list, and the first name I would like to submit is another winner from Saturday at Pimlico. Recruiting Ready suffered through a losing streak after a big debut win, but has bounced back in an impressive way. I'm here to tell you that this one is a serious racehorse. Just look at his last few wins. I quickly lose faith in him past six, but at the most common distance in American racing, he will be a tough one to get past.

Not to be done on Saturday, Ransom The Moon looked like he belongs in graded stakes company with an impressive win in the Grade 2 Kona Gold at Santa Anita. In fact, there are currently so many good American Sprinters, that I could not name them all. Did I leave out one of your favorites?


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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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