SARATOGA SPRINGS — Frosted opened at odds of 1-5, which meant that almost nobody thought he could lose. Joel Rosario agreed, so he rode him that way. Smart move.
The muscular gray colt set blazing fractions but never looked in danger of tiring and being caught. Frosted shot clear by three lengths in midstretch on the way to a 1¾-length victory in Saturday’s 89th running of the Grade I, $1.25 million Whitney Stakes at sunny Saratoga Race Course.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was asked if playing catch us if you can was the prerace strategy.
“No, it wasn’t the plan to take the lead,” he said. “We have a top rider, and we let Joel dictate what he wanted to do when the gates opened. They were going fast, but I knew that for Joel to do that, he had to have plenty of horse. I was confident in Joel. Everything worked out.”
Rosario never had to hit the 1-2 favorite, who followed a 14¼-length runaway in the Met Mile on June 11 with another knockout performance. Many, including McLaughlin, expected Frosted to regress, or “bounce,” in racetrack lingo. “He may have bounced,” McLaughlin said, “but he bounced right to the winner’s circle.”
Rosario moved aggressively to the front entering the backstretch after an opening quarter-mile in a quick 23.11 seconds. With Noble Bird applying pressure, Frosted blasted through a half-mile in 46.23 and 6 furlongs in 1:09.65. Fractions that swift in a 9-furlong race usually set it up for a closer, and when multiple-stakes winner Effinex rallied wide approaching the stretch, a buzz went through the crowd of 39,405.
The threat faded quickly, and in midstretch, the only question was who would complete the exacta. Comfort, a 7-1 shot trained by Todd Pletcher, rallied for second as Frosted crossed the wire in 1:47.77.
“He was cooking,” Rosario said. “I was cruising the whole way, he was very relaxed and I just tried to save something for the end.”
The 4-year-old son of Tapit won for the sixth time in 17 starts and earned $670,000, raising his total above $3.85 million for international superpower Godolphin Racing. Behind the top two came Upstart, Effinex, Noble Bird and El Kabeir.
McLaughlin, 55, trained Invasor, the 2006 Horse of the Year. After putting Grade I wins back to back, Frosted is on the rise in his personal rankings.
“He really has matured from 3 to 4,” McLaughlin said. “And American Pharoah is at stud now, so we don’t have to chase him around anymore. Invasor was the best, I’ll always say, but Frosted is creeping up now.”
Son of superhorse flops. Brooklyn Bobby, who was sired by the undefeated European superstar Frankel, is named for the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel. The 2-year-old colt ran a dud in his debut, breaking slowly and finishing sixth, beaten by 11 lengths, at 6-5 odds in the Spa’s opener.
Nine of Frankel’s first 12 runners won this year in Europe and Japan. Brooklyn Bobby was his first in North America. If Frankel was watching the simulcast in England, perhaps he thought, “That’s no son of mine.”
Notes & quotes: Closer Paola Queen ($112) pulled off a shocker under Luis Saez in the Grade I Test Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Venezuelan Gustavo Delgado trains the winner, who entered the Test 1-for-7. “I’m a grown man,” he said, “and I cry.” So did almost everybody who bet the race. Remarkably, despite the 55-1 bomb, the Pick 6 was hit for $106,696 . . . Trainer Chad Brown had four wins, including two turf stakes, and leads runner-up Pletcher 17-12.