Frosted tops Met Mile; Justin Squared, Sharp Azteca meet in Woody Stephens
A multiple Grade 1 winner last season, Frosted will be making his first appearance since a fifth to California Chrome in the Dubai World Cup (G1) in late March and Joel Rosario rides. The gray 4-year-old is one of three runners for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin along with Grade 1 runner-up Marking, the 8-1 fifth choice; and 20-1 outsider Tamarkruz, who was last seen finishing fourth in the Kelso (G2) last October.
Grade 1 winner Noble Bird is the 9-2 second favorite following an 11-length romp in the Pimlico Special (G3) 22 days ago. Julien Leparoux retains the mount for Mark Casse. Stanford, who exits a two-length tally in the Charles Town Classic (G2), comes next at 5-1 on the morning line and the Todd Pletcher-trained colt will have Javier Castellano up.
Pletcher is also responsible for Gulfstream Park H. (G2) victor Blofeld, who will be attempting to rebound from a fourth in the Oaklawn H. (G2); and Anchor Down, a 6 ¾-length scorer in the May 7 Westchester (G3) on Belmont’s opening day. They are listed at 10-1 and 12-1, respectively.
Other runners of interest include Ami’s Flatter, freshened since taking the April 9 Commonwealth (G3) at Keeneland by 2 3/4 lengths; and Calculator, runner-up in the Churchill Downs (G2) and Carter H. (G1) in his last two.
Two races previously, 13 sophomores will contest the $500,000 Woody Stephens (G2). The 7-furlong test features an exciting match-up between the unbeaten Justin Squared, an authoritative two-length winner of the May 21 Chick Lang at Pimlico; and Sharp Azteca, who recorded his third straight victory when posting a dominant 2 ½-length score in the May 7 Pat Day Mile (G3) at Churchill Downs.
Regular rider Martin Pedroza will be up on Justin Squared for Bob Baffert, but the Jorge Navarro-trained Sharp Azteca will receive a rider switch to Joe Bravo.
Those seeking an upset include Chick Lang runner-up Counterforce, Laz Barrera (G3) winner I Will Score, recent allowance scorer Seymourdini and Louisiana Derby (G2) runner-up Tom’s Ready.
Kid Cruz will seek his third consecutive stakes tally earlier on the program when he lines up for the $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational (G2). Conditioned by Linda Rice, the 5-year-old horse exits wins in the April 9 Excelsior (G3) at Aqueduct and February 13 John B. Campbell at Laurel, but Kid Cruz will be making his first attempt at 1 ½ miles. Jose Ortiz keeps the assignment.
Also part of the 10-horse field are Samraat, Securitz, Shaman Ghost and Turco Bravo.
The $150,000 Easy Goer kicks off the stakes action with a short field of five and Grade 2 hero Cupid should be a prohibitive favorite in the 1 1/16-mile race. Last-out Belmont allowance winners Economic Model and Rally Cry are his main opponents.
Frosted photo courtesy of Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography