Ransom the Moon takes the win in eventful Bing Crosby Stakes

July 29, 2017 05:34pm

In what was supposed to be the return of reigning Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Drefong, Ransom the Moon and jockey Flavien Prat escaped a troubled race to snatch the $300,000 Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes, a six-furlong event for 3 year olds and up at Del Mar.


Before the gates even opened, Magic Taste broke through gate six, catching jockey Tiago Pereira on the gate. Magic Taste was cleared to race by the veterinarian and Pereira hopped back on with a limp in his stride.


All seemed well as the other eight horses stood calm in the gate. Drefong, the 9-5 second choice, had a clean break, but more drama unfolded before the horses could even get in formation. Having broken at the end of the chute, Drefong took a sharp left in front of Denman’s Call, the one horse, and ducked into the turn of the racetrack.


Jockey Mike Smith tried to guide his mount back into the race, but Drefong cut sharp and dropped Smith. The Bob Baffert trainee then found his way back to the rail and joined the rest of the field.


Meanwhile, St. Joe Bay took control of the race up front, carving out fractions of :22.19, :45.52, and :57.48 through the first three-quarters of a mile. Roy H picked up second on the outside, followed by Moe Candy, Ransom the Moon, and Magic Taste. Solid Wager and Denman’s Call were another few lengths back, Kobe’s Back was left trailing the field.


With St. Joe Bay giving up the lead, Roy H and Moe Candy were ready to battle it out turning for home. The riderless Drefong came off the rail and carried them six wide, allowing Ransom the Moon to save ground and come up the rail. Prat guided his mount to a one and a half-length win, hitting the wire in 1:09.63.


“On the backside I was concerned (about the loose horse, Drefong). I thought he was going to cause me problems,” said Prat. “But I stayed behind him and then on the turn, he went outside and took the leader (Roy H) out with him. I got to go inside and it worked out perfectly. My horse is a really nice horse and I think six furlongs is his best distance. I got lucky today. Sometimes racing is like that.”


Roy H put in a game effort to get up for second, with Drefong stuck to his inside during the stretch. Moe Candy held for third on the outside, and Kobe’s Back cut through the middle of the field to take fourth. Solid Wager, Denman’s Call, Magic Taste, and St. Joe Bay completed the order of finish. Big Macher and Coastline were scratched.


Paco Lopez, who was aboard Roy H, also commented on Drefong.


My horse was running really well and then the loose horse changed everything,” said Lopez. “I was trying to work around him, but we just kept getting pushed out. I don’t know if I would have won if it hadn’t happened, but I think I surely could have. Horse racing. What can you do?”


Reports also came back that both Drefong and Smith were OK.


“I’m fine. It’s just too bad it happened,” said Smith “The horse just outside me (No. 3 – St. Joe Bay), just brushed me a little bit and sent him (Drefong) left toward the gap. Then he just ducked for it (the gap) and I came off. If I don’t get brushed, I think I go right through there and I’m going to be fine. But they tell me the horse is OK, and I’m OK. It’s just one of those things.”


At 4-1, Ransom the Moon returned $10.80, $4.20, and $3.60. Roy H, who was favored at 8-5 over Drefong, paid $3.20 and $2.80 to place, and 14-1 Moe Candy paid $5.60 to show.


Ransom the Moon is a five-year-old horse by Malibu Moon and out of Count to Three, by Red Ransom. He was bred in Ontario by Sam-Son Farms and now races for Agave Racing Stable and Jeffry Wilke.


Ransom the Moon won his debut for his current owners in late April, taking an allowance optional claiming race at Santa Anita Park. Trainer Phil D’Amato has since conditioned the horse to a victory in the Grade 2 Kona Gold Stakes and a neck loss to Danzing Candy in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes.


The Bing Crosby was the fifth win in 19 starts for Ransom the Moon, who also has six seconds and one third. He has now earned $520,829 on the track.


“Flavien (Prat) did a great job feeling out the dynamics of the race and hats off to Peter Miller’s horse (Roy H.) who ran a really good race,” said D’Amato. “The weird thing is I ran a filly in the fourth race today (Table for Three) who did the same thing Drefong did, she tried to make the gap too. Luckily everyone is all right. We had to kind of sit behind Drefong and we were in the right spot at the top of the lane when he kind of drifted out. This horse is such a big, strong, good-looking Adonis of a horse and since trying him on the dirt he has been a totally different animal.”


The Bing Crosby is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, giving Ransom the Moon an automatic berth into the championship race. Del Mar will be hosting the Breeders’ Cup for the first time this fall.


“We’ll probably prep him on the dirt at Santa Anita,” D’Amato added, “and then come back here for the Breeders’ Cup.”  



By Christine Oser


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