The Grade 1, $400,000 Bing Crosby Stakes is a “Win & You’re In” for the Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint this fall at Keeneland. The race drew an exceptionally well-matched field of 10 with six of the runners entering the race off a win or a narrow runner-up effort.
Diamond Oops leads the field in terms of earnings ($1.4 million) and accomplishments as he has four graded stakes wins in his career, although his last victory came in June of 2021. Next is the exceptional sprinter Drain the Clock, who has won seven of 14 races including both the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes and Grade 1 Woody Stephens Stakes Presented by Nassau County Industrial Development Agency last year. American Theorem and Principe Carlo both proved they belong with the top sprinters in North America following their most recent efforts when first and second, respectively, and separated by a nose in the Grade 2 Triple Bend Stakes. Letsgetlucky is another interesting candidate as he returns off a three-month layoff and, when last seen, finished fast for second behind sprint division leader Jackie’s Warrior in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap. Get Her Number won the Grade 3 American Pharoah Stakes in the fall of 2020 then won only one of seven subsequent starts, but he earned a big win in his most recent race at the end of June. Howbeit has won six of 20 dirt races and was returning from more than 10 months on the bench earlier this month in the Oak Tree Sprint Stakes but stumbled and lost his jockey. Bagboss has finished first or second in seven of eight races and tries stakes company for the first time. Desmond Doss is a multiple stakes winner against California-bred horses, most recently winning the Bertrando Stakes in June. Shaaz is the most lightly raced starter in the Bing Crosby Stakes, having run only four times and winning three times. He cuts back in distance after a third-place effort in the Grade 3 Steve Sexton Mile Stakes in his most recent race.
Analysis and main contenders:
I am going to start with a potential upsetter in Howbeit, who has won six of 20 career races on dirt, including three of eight last year. Claimed for $32,000 in February of 2021 after winning four of 12 dirt sprints, Howbeit ran the best races of his career in succession with two runner-up finishes followed by two very strong wins by margins of 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 lengths. Those efforts earned 108 and 105 Equibase Speed Figures, which put in perspective are on par with the top horses in this field, as evidenced by the 109 figure American Theorem earned winning the Triple Bend Stakes in May and the 109 figures earned by Shaaz (Steve Sexton Mile) and by Letsgetlucky (Count Fleet Sprint Handicap). Returning to the races on July 2 after 10 months off, Howbeit was the odds-on favorite in the Oak Tree Sprint Stakes but stumbled and lost his jockey at the start. Having put in a few spectacularly fast workouts prior to that race, trainer Mark Glatt has given Howbeit just one, slower five-furlong workout in preparation for this race as he was already in top condition. Considering that one of his career-best efforts came one year ago this week at Del Mar (July 25), I think Howbeit may have what it takes to win this year’s Bing Crosby Stakes and surprise many racing fans.
Diamond Oops has always been an interesting horse to me. After winning three of his first four races in 2017, including two stakes on dirt (both sprints) and making only one start in 2018, trainer Patrick Biancone switched him to turf for his 2019 campaign, then back to dirt to win the Smile Sprint Stakes that summer. Entered in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes that fall at Keeneland, Biancone instead ran Diamond Oops in the Shadwell Turf Mile, nearly pulling off the 12.20-1 upset when the horse led late and finished second. Later that year, Diamond Oops moved back to dirt to win the Mr. Prospector Stakes then the following September (2020) he won the Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes Presented by Sysco with a last to first rally, then moved back to dirt to win the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes. Although Diamond Oops has won just one of 12 races since, that one win earned a 111 Equibase Speed Figure that was close to as good as any he had earned earlier in this career. It is very interesting that Biancone shipped Diamond Oops to Del Mar, where he had never run before, and entered him in a race on July 23, just one week ago, likely with the Bing Crosby Stakes in mind if the horse ran well, which he did when finishing third of seven behind multiple stakes winner C Z Rocket. Prior to that race, Diamond Oops put in a very strong five-furlong workout in 58.85 seconds, with both the workout and subsequent race demonstrating the horse likes the Del Mar surface and could run even better in his second start locally.
Drain the Clock has won half of his 14 starts, including four stakes races. In his first start of 2022, Drain the Clock opened up late in the race and was just run down by a neck in the Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes, earning a career best 113 speed figure, which one might expect from a maturing 4-year-old. After a poor seventh-place finish against some of the best sprinters in the world in the Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Atlantis Dubai in March, Drain the Clock resurfaced in the Smile Sprint Invitational Stakes four weeks ago against horses that had run more recently than March, which could explain why he faded to fourth after moving up from sixth to lead after a half-mile. Before leaving his home base in South Florida, Drain the Clock put in a very strong :46.26 half-mile workout, and this being his second start off the layoff, he may return to top form good enough to win a graded stakes for the fourth time in his career.
The top three being the main win contenders in my opinion, honorable mention has to go to a few other horses. First among those are American Theorem and Principe Carlo, who both earned strong 109 Equibase Speed Figures when first and second, respectively, in the Triple Bend Stakes near the end of May. Both were ignored in the wagering at 13-1 odds, but neither would be a surprise if they were to run well in this situation. Letsgetlucky also may deserve some respect as his career-best effort (with a 109 figure) in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap in April was noteworthy. Not only did he close strongly in the last eighth of a mile into Breeders’ Cup Sprint divisional leader Jackie’s Warrior, it must be noted both the winner and third-place finisher returned to win their next starts.
As to Shaaz, he may possibly be the betting favorite with his trainer being Bob Baffert and off his 109 speed figure effort when third in the Steve Sexton Mile Stakes in his most recent start. However, with Shaaz having run just four times and with his other three efforts yielding 93, 97, and 101 figures, which are inferior to the rest of the field’s efforts in races similar to this one, I’ll take a stand against him.
The rest of the field (with best Equibase Speed Figure): Bagboss (105), Desmond Doss (107) and Get Her Number (103).
Drain the Clock