Pennsylvania Derby likely final Breeders' Cup prep for Frosted
The Wood Memorial (G1) winner, who ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and second in the Belmont (G1), unexpectedly turned up the heat on the front-running American Pharoah entering the first turn of the "Midsummer Derby" and continued to do so down the backside. It was a race-time decision by Jose Lezcano, a late substitute for regular rider Joel Rosario, who was injured earlier on the Travers card.
Challenged like he had not been all season, American Pharoah briefly relinquished the lead to Frosted at the quarter pole but fought back gamely to regain the advantage in mid-stretch. However, the early exertion eventually caught up with the heavy favorite as Keen Ice came on to pick up the pieces from his exhausted rivals by three parts of a length. Frosted faded to third, three lengths behind the winner.
Frosted avoids the division's heavyweights in the 1 1/8-mile Pennsylvania Derby, but a propensity to settle for minor awards might leave him at least a little vulnerable.
American Pharoah's trainer Bob Baffert has entered Gimme Da Lute, a narrow winner of the Affirmed (G3) and Los Alamitos Derby (G2) who defeated overmatched rivals in the a pair of stakes during the Del Mar meeting. Baffert, of course, saddled eventual Breeders' Cup Classic winner Bayern to a mild upset win over Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1) winner California Chrome in last year's Pennsylvania Derby.
Looking for his first official win since the January 24 Holy Bull (G2) is Upstart, who finished third to American Pharoah in the Haskell Invitational (G1) and fourth in the Travers since returning from a three-month break. Injured when trailing in the Kentucky Derby, he entered that classic off second-place efforts in the Fountain of Youth (G2), where he was disqualified from the win for interference, and in the Florida Derby (G1).
Island Town enters off a 6 3/4-length romp in the Smarty Jones (G3), the local prep for the Derby contested over one mile 70 yards. The Ian Wilkes trainee, who earlier had won the Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs, was rebounding from a fifth-place try in the Indiana Derby (G2) contested in the slop.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has entered West Virginia Derby (G2) and Peter Pan (G2) winner Madefromlucky and the Grade 3-placed Tommy Macho, who was a dull seventh in the Mountaineer fixture. War Story and Iron Fist, third and fourth, respectively, in the West Virginia Derby, are also in the lineup.
The field is rounded out by Mr. Z, hard-knocking hero of the Ohio Derby in June, and the Nick Zito-trained Battle Midway.
(Frosted photo: NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)