Photo: Mary Cage
Each year, a number of talented racehorses step foot on the
track and offer great performances. But it is not every year that several truly
elite horses keep the racing atmosphere electric with one brilliant performance
after another. In 2016, American racing fans have witnessed a plethora of
fantastic performances from superb horses. Some of these horses may go down as
all-time greats, some may not, but regardless, it is a great time to be a racing
fan. This series features these horses.
Part Three: Frosted
2015 was the year of American Pharoah. Lost in his shadow, however, was a gray colt
waiting to find the spotlight. That colt – Frosted – was a nice two-year-old, breaking
his maiden by 5 ¼ lengths before playing second fiddle in the Remsen Stakes
(gr. II). After a runner-up effort in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) and a
fourth place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), Frosted finally
found the spotlight with a two-length win in the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I).
The Tapit colt fared well in the Triple Crown, competing in the Kentucky Derby
(gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I), but could not overtake the first Triple
Crown winner in 37 years in American Pharoah. After finishing fourth in the
Derby, beaten just over three lengths, Frosted skipped the Preakness Stakes
(gr. I) in favor of the Belmont. Frosted gave American Pharoah everything he
had, but was no match as American Pharoah galloped into history – although Frosted did finish a clear second, two lengths ahead of Keen Ice.
After running a game second in the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II), beaten only a
half-length by 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Texas Red, Frosted again
faced American Pharoah – this time in the Travers Stakes (gr. I). He pressed
the pace set by the Triple Crown winner all the way around the track, remaining
only a narrow margin behind American Pharoah down the backstretch. He collared
that rival around the final bend, giving him everything he had before they were
both passed by Keen Ice.
Frosted returned to the winner’s circle next out in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr.
II), coasting to an easy two-length win, overtaking his rivals with power.
However, he did not fare so well in his final race as a three-year-old, the
Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Keeneland, finishing seventh. But this
was certainly no indication of what the next year would hold in store for the
Frosted did not begin his 2016 campaign in the United States, but rather in
Dubai when he took on eight rivals in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2
(UAE-II). The powerful mover sat off the pace before pouncing to the lead in
the stretch, drawing off to a five-length victory. This race was used as a prep
for the $10-million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), but the four-year-old did not fare
as well there, finishing fifth – beaten more than 5 lengths by California Chrome.
But when Frosted returned to American racing in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr.
I) on Belmont Stakes Day in June, he had regained his brilliance – and then
some. After racing mid-pack throughout, Frosted was maneuvered around a wall of
horses through the far turn by jockey Joel Rosario. That rider remained a
statue in the saddle as Frosted seized the lead turning for home, kicking clear
from his rivals as if they were standing still. He finished 14 ¼ lengths ahead –
the largest winning margin in the history of the 123-year-old race – in a final
time of 1:32.73, another Met Mile record.
Frosted was not seen again until the Whitney Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga on
August 6, where he again performed in a breathtaking manner. This time, Frosted
set the pace, posting quick fractions of 23.11, 46.42, 1:09.65, and 1:34.52.
Despite being pressed by grade one winner Noble Bird throughout, Frosted
maintained his lead and repelled the charges of his foes as they turned for
home. With only a light ride from Joel Rosario, the gray coasted to an
impressive two-length lead.
Frosted has more to prove, but one thing he has undoubtedly already proven is
his brilliance. His record-breaking performance in the Met Mile was perhaps the
most impressive in the race’s rich history, and he proved in the Whitney that
it was most certainly not a fluke. Frosted has always been a talented
racehorse, but he has seemed to reach a new level. It will be exciting to see what
the remainder of his career holds in store.