Frosted has been a well-bred problem child for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, so it was business as usual Saturday when he broke slowly, got stuck behind a slow pace and was wide on both turns in the Wood Memorial. But when the gray colt turned into the Aqueduct stretch full of run, McLaughlin figured the aggravation was about to end.
He was right. Frosted passed Tencendur near the sixteenth pole and drew off under Joel Rosario for a two-length win over the New York-bred long shot in the Grade I, $1-million Kentucky Derby prep. El Kabeir, trained by Syosset native John Terranova II, rallied for third, 3 3/4 lengths farther back, for C.C. Lopez.
"Coming into the stretch, I could tell Joel had a lot of horse," McLaughlin said. "And I don't care how he got there, as long as he finished first."
It was only the second win in seven career starts for Frosted, who befuddled McLaughlin in his last race, the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 21 at Gulfstream. He looked home free in midstretch before he suddenly stopped running and faded to fourth for Jose Ortiz, who was on Tencendur Saturday. McLaughlin decided it was time for a total makeover. Besides a different workout routine and a new rider, Frosted had a minor throat operation to ensure he had no trouble breathing.
"This has been a special project for my team," said McLaughlin, a Kentucky native and Garden City resident. "We know he has a ton of ability, and the last race really made us scratch our heads, asking 'Why?' He went to the lead and threw up his head and stopped. We did everything we possibly could to change everything that we thought went wrong, and it all worked out. It's very gratifying."
Next stop: Churchill Downs.
Frosted ran 11/8 miles in 1:50.31 on a fast track and paid $6.60. The son of top sire Tapit, winner of the 2004 Wood, earned $590,000 for Godolphin Racing, McLaughlin's employer for 22 years.
Godolphin's founder, Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum of Dubai, and McLaughlin have teamed to take many world-class races, but never the Run for the Roses. McLaughlin thinks Frosted gives them a good chance on May 2, and he's not worried about whether he'll stay 1 1/4 miles.
"No problem after today, the way he rolled up and passed them all," he said. "I don't think another eighth of a mile will be a problem."
Notes & quotes: Trainer Rudy Rodriguez had a big day, repeating in the Grade I, 7-furlong Carter Handicap with Dads Caps ($13.40) and taking the Grade II, 11/8-mile Gazelle Handicap with Condo Commando ($3.30), a top contender for the Kentucky Oaks.
Long Island real estate developer Michael Dubb co-owns Condo Commando, a four-time stakes winner and among the nation's top 3-year-old fillies. "She's just the real deal, and I hope people realize that now," Dubb said. "I don't want to sound too much like a cheerleader, but I'm a proud papa."
Dortmund ($3.20) opened up leaving the final turn and romped to a 4 1/4-length win in the Santa Anita Derby, keeping the colt unbeaten heading into the Kentucky Derby.
Carpe Diem wins
Carpe Diem ($2.80) seized the lead near the top of the stretch after stalking early leader Ocho Ocho Ocho and drew away to a three-length victory in the Blue Grass at Keeneland. -- AP