01/06/2017 10:26AM

2016 Eclipse Awards: Frosted

Emily Shields
Frosted finished the Met Mile 14 1/4 lengths ahead of his nearest competitor.

When Frosted was good, he was very good. That’s all anyone needs to remember about him.

His performance in the million-dollar Mohegan Sun Metropolitan Handicap last June 11 was one of those watershed efforts that had to be seen to be believed. It happened on Belmont Stakes Day, with outstanding races carded left and right. But by sunset, as the crowd cleared, all anyone could really talk about was Frosted.

People looked at Frosted one way before the Met Mile, and in an entirely different way afterward.

The Met Mile began innocently enough. Stalking calmly from deep in the field, ridden with abiding faith by Joel Rosario, Frosted saved a bit of ground down the backstretch, then worked his way into a perfect perch just behind the leaders on the turn.

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To that point, Rosario had done nothing but steered, and Frosted was still in a high gallop when he hit the front on the outside turning into the Belmont stretch. As if rehearsed, Rosario threw a new cross, pushed a few times on Frosted’s slate-gray neck, and felt the graceful colt practically accelerate out from beneath him to leave a gasping pack behind.

Up in the announcer’s booth, Larry Collmus went crazy, giving the folks still out on Hempstead Turnpike a taste of his full-throated appreciation, as Frosted barrelled past the finish line, 14 1/4 lengths ahead of second-place Anchor Down.

The race was immediately proclaimed one of the greatest Met Miles in the history of the legendary event. Frosted may not have carried as much as Devil Diver’s 134 pounds or Forego’s 133. The field might not have been as deep as the 1965 running, where Gun Bow beat Chieftain and Affectionately, or in 1990, when Criminal Type beat Housebuster and Easy Goer. But no one in the crowd could recall a time when the hallmark event had been won so impressively, with so little apparent effort.

The Met Mile set expectations unreasonably high for any subsequent Frosted outings. He was rested, then returned with a businesslike win in the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga, good for another big payday. But that was his last hurrah. Frosted seemed uninspired when he was a narrowly beaten third in the subsequent Woodward, after which he got a two-month break in competition.

He made his final appearance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, where he was among the trampled by the dominating performances of Arrogate and California Chrome.

Flying the Godolphin blue for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, Frosted began 2016 in Dubai, where he seemed right at home. With speed to spare, Frosted won Round 2 of the Maktoum Challenge at 1 1/16 miles, a race that appeared to put the colt on the verge of a major effort in the Dubai World Cup. On the big night, Frosted ran well for his owner’s hometown crowd, but California Chrome ran more than five lengths better to steal the show.

Frosted retired as Tapit’s richest son, earning just shy of $4 million. He raced 19 times and won six races, including the Wood Memorial and the Pennsylvania Derby as one of the nation’s top 3-year-olds of 2015.

Darley bred Frosted in Kentucky from the mare Fast Cookie, a daughter of Deputy Minister and a half-sister to Midshipman, Sheikh Mohammed’s 2008 Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old colt and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner. Their dam, Fleet Lady, was a terror in California in 1998 for Jerry Hollendorfer and one of the reasons Mr. & Mrs. John C. Mabee won an Eclipse Award that year as outstanding breeder.