Big-Race Showdown: Kentucky Derby Championship Series Visits Fair Grounds, Turfway
With the 2016 Triple Crown season in the rearview mirror, the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” season is gearing up. While international “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series races for this year’s event have been taking place since January, the first U.S. race of the year was the June 4 Shoemaker Mile Stakes, with other North American races coming fast and furious after that.
In the this week’s Getting to Know feature, we focus on Frosted, winner of the $1.25-million Metropolitan Handicap on June 11 and the first horse to earn a spot in the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Nov. 4.
One of the most successful 3-year-olds of 2015, Frosted has been a regular on the stakes scene since breaking his maiden in October of 2014.
After winning by 5 ¼ lengths to earn a 93 Equibase Speed Figure in that maiden, he was entered in the Grade 2 Remsen. He didn’t win the race but put in a very credible showing when finishing second by half-length to Leave the Light On. Finishing eight lengths behind in third was a name Frosted would become very familiar with in coming races – Keen Ice.
Frosted didn’t take much of a winter break in 2014, returning at the end of January to add another second to his resume in the Grade 2 Holy Bull where he earned his first three-digit Equibase figure with a 102. Frosted seemed to have a good shot in the Fountain of Youth but a disappointing fourth-place finish convinced his connections to make some changes. It seemed to work with Frosted winning the Wood Memorial in a then-career-best 112 Equibase Speed Figure for his final Kentucky Derby prep race.
Winning the Wood Memorial on him meant that Joel Rosario was able to keep the mount in the Kentucky Derby where Frosted went off as the 10.30-to-1 fifth choice. While the race turned into a California trifecta with the top three all West Coast-based, Frosted represented the East Coast well when finishing only a neck behind Dortmund and 3 ¼ lengths behind American Pharoah.
Five weeks later, American Pharoah went on to win the Triple Crown but Frosted’s future stallion ads could boast that the gray is classic placed with a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes. An old rival was lurking close behind with Keen Ice, who had finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby, two lengths behind Frosted.
Frosted’s string of finishing well in stakes races but not actually getting the win continued in the Jim Dandy when he was beaten half a length by 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes as the favorite. In the Travers Stakes, he came up against American Pharoah and Keen Ice again in what would turn into a weirdly run race.
Rosario, who had ridden Frosted in each start since their Wood Memorial win, was injured earlier on the Travers day card and replaced by Jose Lezcano. Lezcano sent Frosted up to challenge American Pharoah for the majority of the race, softening both horses up for Keen Ice. American Pharoah was able to hold Keen Ice off longer, finishing second by three-quarters of a length with Frosted finishing third, three lengths behind them.
A month later, Frosted had Joel Rosario back aboard and a bit of class relief when running in the Pennsylvania Derby in his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In possibly the easiest run he’d had since his maiden victory, Frosted relaxed in mid-pack during the early part of the race, moved up to third behind Iron Fist mid-race, took over the lead in the stretch and pulled away to win by two lengths. It was the first time Frosted had visited the winner’s circle since the Wood Memorial.
"He's a top horse and the last three out of his last four runs have been against American Pharoah, so it's great (American Pharoah) wasn't here and we were able to shine today," McLaughlin told Blood-Horse post-race.
Not surprisingly, Frosted headed to a competitive Breeders’ Cup Classic to take his chances against American Pharoah again. But while American Pharoah cruised on the lead, turning the Classic into an easy gallop, Frosted faded from third to seventh in the stretch.
Frosted was given a small break after the Breeders’ Cup before loading onto a plane early in the year to Dubai.
Making his first start in the country on Feb. 4 in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 Sponsored by EGA, he left the winner’s enclosure with whispers of Dubai World Cup glory following him after his impressive five-length victory and track record time.
Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 Sponsored by EGA
In the Dubai World Cup, Frosted raced mid-pack but wasn’t able to make a big impact on the outcome of the race. The colt didn’t embarrass himself by any means, however, finishing fifth of 12, 5 ½ lengths behind 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome.
While some people believe that trips to Dubai knock horses out of their best form for a lengthy amount of time, owner Godolphin Racing and trainer McLaughlin didn’t subscribe to that thought when entering Frosted in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap.
Frosted raced mid-pack as multiple horses vied for the lead down the backstretch. Rosario sat chilly on Frosted as the battles played out in front of them before letting Frosted run as they came into the turn. Frosted worked his way out from the rail to come on the outside of the leading Anchor Down when the field turned into the stretch and moments later the race was over. With Rosario just giving him a hand ride, Frosted pulled away while looking like he was barely running to win by 14 ¼ lengths in front of a Belmont Stakes day crowd.
Frosted earned a new career best Speed Figure with the win, flying up 10 points to a 122 to sit three points behind the best dirt figure of the year.
This win gave Frosted a guaranteed spot in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, but odds are that he will aim for the Classic instead. Frosted is a stronger horse than he was in 2015 and has already proven twice that he can put in standout performances this year. Frosted has big wins at both a mile and longer, plus three of his four runs at 1 ¼ miles or longer ended up with him finishing fourth or better so distance really shouldn’t be a huge problem for this son of Tapit. A bigger challenge may be taking on California Chrome and Beholder in the Classic with him already losing to California Chrome once this year.
A Darley-bred, Frosted runs under the name of Darley’s racing arm, Godolphin. With that operation behind him, it isn’t surprising that Frosted has a blue-blood pedigree.
Frosted is by Tapit, who has sired two of the last three Belmont Stakes winners. Tapit has consistently broken records over the last few years as a leading sire and has six champions in nine crops of racing age. Tapit has five Breeders’ Cup winners, including Tapizar in the 2012 Dirt Mile, but Tapit’s best finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic from five runs is fifth with Tonalist in both 2014 and 2015.
The lack of a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner hasn’t hurt Tapit at all, the 15-year-old stallion stands for $300,000, the highest stud fee in North America and one of the highest advertised fees in the world.
Frosted is out of multiple graded stakes winner Fast Cookie, who has three winners from four foals to race. Frosted is the mare’s only stakes winner but Frosted’s full sister Macaroon made $141,836 during her career and half-sister With Sugar On Top made $117,984.
When Frosted retires to the stallion barn at Darley, he will join his dam’s half-brother Midshipman. Midshipman was the 2008 champion 2-year-old colt, winning two Grade 1s including the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile during that campaign. He missed most of his 3-year-old season but came back at the end of the year to finish third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at the same track he won the Juvenile the year before. Midshipman was campaigned in Dubai the following year but retired in February before he could run in any of the Dubai World Cup night races.
It’s likely that Frosted will retire at the end of this year but before he does he still has a few races left on his schedule. His next race is reported to be the Whitney, a Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.