Frosted much the best in Whitney
by Teresa Genaro
The sounds from the crowd at Saratoga Race Course late Saturday afternoon were the sorts of sounds that are often a reaction to bad news.
Gasps. Cries. Groans.
And for much of the Grade I, $1.25 million Whitney, the ferocious early fractions that elicited those reactions indeed looked like bad news for Frosted, a cringe-inducing reminder of the Travers here last summer, when the gray son of Tapit dueled with American Pharoah, eliminating both the Triple Crown winner and himself en route to a third-place finish.
But the Frosted who ran here today is not the Frosted that ran here a year ago. This Frosted, coming off a dazzling Met Mile two months ago, once again went to the lead and set a sizzling pace, and this Frosted, as he did that day on the Belmont undercard, with little urging from jockey Joel Rosario, cruised to victory, the first in the Whitney for Godolphin Racing. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin won the 2006 Whitney with Invasor.
Following last year’s Travers, McLaughlin was none too happy with jockey José Lezcano’s decision to tangle early with American Pharoah; Lezcano had picked up the mount when the horse’s regular rider Joel Rosario was injured in the King’s Bishop, earlier on the card. This year, McLaughlin said that it “wasn’t the plan” to go to the lead and that it was up to Rosario to make the call when the gates opened.
“He went fast and he was on the lead and I knew if he was there, he would have plenty of horse,” said the trainer. “Everything worked out.”
The horse that had the bad fortune to be born in the same year as American Pharoah proved that his Met Mile was no fluke, his record this year three wins in four starts, his only loss a fifth-place finish in the Dubai World Cup in March, won by California Chrome.
And immediately following the Whitney, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Horse of the Year trash-talking started, with Frosted’s proponents being roundly dismissed by Chrome’s supporters, pointing to the latter’s four-for-four record this year and thrashing of Frosted at Meydan.
With Frosted tentatively pointing to the Woodward at Saratoga and the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, these two contenders are unlikely to face each other until the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park. Should Chrome win, he’d likely lock up Horse of the Year. If Frosted wins…does the Breeders’ Cup Classic trump the Dubai World Cup in the minds of the voters? And should the Dubai World Cup figure at all into voters’ estimations, as it takes place outside of North America?
However you answer these questions—and however the horses answer them on the racetrack—we’ve got a fun few months ahead of us in the older male division. In a world in which intact males are often retired far too soon, two of the best will be racing for at least a few months more.
Frosted photo courtesy of Teresa Genaro