Frosted Romps While Filly & Mare Turf Stars Impress

Frosted Romps While Filly & Mare Turf Stars Impress

Frosted has long been a talented colt, flashing significant ability ever since he finished second in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) as a two-year-old in 2014. He was even good enough to finish second behind American Pharoah in the 2015 Belmont Stakes, but disappointing efforts in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) and Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) suggested that the son of Tapit was more of a grade II performer than an elite grade I runner.

But in his last two starts, Frosted has risen to an entirely different level and has stamped himself as one of the best horses in the country; perhaps even a Horse of the Year contender. Following his record-breaking win in the historic Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) in June, Frosted returned to the races on August 6th at Saratoga $1,250,000 Whitney Stakes (gr. I) in another decisive and impressive performance.

Usually a stalker or closer, Frosted showed a new dimension in the Whitney, sprinting to the lead and posting sharp fractions of :46.42 and 1:09.65. A pace like that in a two-turn race would tire most horses, but Frosted finished strongly, cruising home under little urging to score by two lengths in the fast time of 1:47.77, good for a Beyer speed figure of 107.

There are still questions for Frosted to answer–can he transfer his terrific New York form to California, where the Breeders’ Cup will be held, and can he be successful going ten furlongs in top company?–but there’s no doubt that he’s become a significant force to reckon with this season and could make things interesting over the next three months.

I’d also like to mention Comfort, who rallied after a slow start to finish a strong second in the Whitney. Trained by Todd Pletcher, this lightly-raced colt has shown a lot of improvement this year and showed versatility while overcoming a change in running style in the Whitney. Should Frosted skip the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) at the end of the Saratoga meet, that race could very well be Comfort’s to lose.

The seven-furlong Test Stakes (gr. I) for three-year-old fillies was also held on Saturday at Saratoga, and a blazing pace led to surprising results. When favorites Off the Tracks and Kareena hooked up in a duel through fractions of :21.74 and :43.50, it was clear that the race would be won by a closer, and the one to take advantage was the 55-1 longshot Paola Queen, who rallied into a slow final furlong to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:22.32 seconds.

Now, Paola Queen brought some decent form into the Test Stakes, having finished a solid fifth in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) after setting the pace, but she was undoubtedly aided by the blazing pace and slow closing fractions and could be vulnerable next time out if she doesn’t get a similar setup. In contrast, Off the Tracks was beaten just a length despite the intense duel for the lead, a remarkable performance under the circumstances. Depending on where she runs next, she could be a great play if the pace looks to be less contested.

Out at Mountaineer, Indiana Derby (gr. II) winner Cupid picked up another big win in the West Virginia Derby (gr. II), taking the lead right away and staying off the slower inside rail to win by four lengths in the time of 1:50.54 for nine furlongs. At first glance, that time isn’t very impressive, but it can’t be overstated how wide Cupid ran–literally seven or eight paths off the rail turning for home–and that definitely contributed to his slow time. Even still, he earned a solid 95 Beyer and is quietly compiling a respectable record in grade II company. Time will tell if he can compete against the likes of Exaggerator and Nyquist, but he could turn up in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) and potentially face both of them in that rich, nine-furlong prep race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

A couple of Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I) contenders also emerged this weekend in Guapaza and Sobradora Inc. The former, trained by Chad Brown, won Saratoga’s twelve-furlong Waya Stakes (gr. III) by a head after leading by a length past the eighth pole. Although her last two wins have come at twelve furlongs, she ran well going shorter earlier this year and seems to be improving nicely this summer–I wouldn’t count her out of the mix.

As for Sobradora Inc, she made her U.S. debut in the 8.5-furlong Osunitas Stakes at Del Mar after going unbeaten in four starts in Italy, including two group I events. Despite entering the Osunitas off an eight-month layoff, Sobradora Inc turned in a terrific homestretch rally to defeat a quality field by a half-length in 1:40.89 seconds. Her victory hasn’t drawn a lot of national attention, but I think this Simon Callaghan-trained daughter of Include has the talent to be something special, and with the Breeders’ Cup being in California this year, she could have a home-court advantage when the big race rolls around.

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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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