07/13/2016 12:03PM

Bergman: Frost Damage Blues gets her chance in Golden Girls

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Breeders Crown
Frost Damage Blues will start from post eight in Saturday's Golden Girls stake at The Meadowlands.

Thirteen was not a lucky number for the connections of Frost Damage Blues on Monday. The 4-year-old pacing mare has come back strongly, albeit a bit late this season, and did not make the initial cut for the $223,150 Golden Girls to be contested on Saturday night at The Meadowlands.

While others have questioned having 12-horse fields with two trailers or going a mile and an eighth, Frost Damage Blues falls into a completely different category when speaking of elimination races or the lack thereof. Here is a mare that more than likely is currently sharper than more than half of the dozen that will contest the Golden Girls. Two consecutive victories, the last over this past Saturday’s rain-soaked surface, indicate that this $6,000 yearling purchase is moving up the ladder and ready to tackle what remains as the leading pacing mares in North America.

And there’s the rub.

While the rules are clear, there are always exceptions. In nominating Frost Damage Blues to the Golden Girls after the filly earned but $58,750 as a 3-year-old, the owner had to know this moment would come.

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“I don’t think she’s got enough earnings,” said Tom Fanning, trainer of Frost Damage Blues, this past Sunday before the draw. “I hope she gets into the consolation.”

Fanning and company were also aware of a particular rule that would assure more than a handful would not just nominate but in fact enter the race.

“You have to enter to be able to get your nominating fees back,” Fanning said in regard to a stipulation in the rules that rightfully wouldn’t penalize an owner just because his horse didn’t meet the earnings threshold.

The pain for Frost Damage Blues lasted just a few days as by Wednesday lady luck had smiled in her direction. Smirked could be more accurate.

“She scratched into the race,” said Fanning on Wednesday.

“It’s post eight and there are two trailers, but she trained good this week and I think she can go with these mares.”

 “When I got her last year she was having problems,” said Fanning. “We took it slowly with her and I actually sent her to race at Saratoga because I thought the non-winners races at The Meadowlands or Harrah’s would be too tough.”

The move to Saratoga and eventually to Yonkers was confidence-building and with just seven starts in her racing career, Fanning and owner William Augustine elected to put her into the Breeders Crown.

“She raced really good in the eliminations for the Breeders Crown,” said Fanning. “In the final she got a terrible drive.”

Frost Damage Blues finished a length back in second in her Breeders Crown elimination race at The Meadowlands, but in the Final driver Brian Sears got away far back from post seven with Frost Damage Blues some 15 lengths away from the leader at the quarter. Trailing most of the way, she managed to finish seventh beaten less than five lengths while pacing a final quarter in 26 2/5. It was quite easy to understand why the trainer would be miffed.

Frost Damage Blues was brought along slowly this year and Fanning says that’s by design.

“Mr. Augustine doesn’t like to race his horses early in the year,” said Fanning.

It would be easy to second guess that decision but realistically the lack of earnings as a 3-year-old was going to inhibit her chances of being among the top 12 for the Golden Girls and could keep her out of the Lady Liberty at the Meadowlands in August.

A look at her early season success is indicative of what can be expected. A mare that has been allowed to mature and seems to get it on the racetrack, with nine wins in 12 career starts and a 4-year-old season that indicates a much better filly than we saw last year.

“I think the best part about her is her attitude,” said Fanning.

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That’s been clear this year. When she first gained attention was in a June 18 qualifier at The Meadowlands while finishing second to the wickedly-fast Mel Mara in a 1:49 2/5 qualifying mile. Driver Dave Miller kept her inside that day, but she closed as fast as anyone that day even after having to check up in the late stages.

In her first race of 2016, she again showed that willingness to pass horses. After taking a bit of a shuffle, she went from last to first with an impressive stretch rally in a 1:51 3/5 mile.

Last Saturday, Frost Damage Blues showed that she can be just as solid on the front end, with driver Andy Miller looking confident from the early stages right through to the wire in a 1:51 2/5 clocking.

Does Frost Damage Blues have the ability to step up to the next level?

Thanks to the defection of Table Talk, she’ll have some chance to find out on Saturday, albeit from post eight in a 12-horse field.

“Yes, I’d rather be in there than on the sidelines,” said Fanning.

Fanning is looking forward to a big year from the $30,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase Photobombr Hanover, a son of Somebeachsomewhere.

“I was very high on him after that 1:55 qualifier at The Meadowlands,” said Fanning. “But then I see the first Sire Stakes at The Meadows going in under 1:52, so I’m not so sure right now.”

Fanning also has an Art Major-sired colt with potential named Timcat Hanover. “He qualified in (1:)55 4/5 and looked good,” said Fanning.

Time will tell in more ways than one for the juveniles, but hopefully earnings restrictions will not keep a potentially top pacing mare from proving her mettle on the big stage.

$223,150 GOLDEN GIRLS FIELD - RACE 12

POST HORSE LISTED DRIVER
1 FASHION SHOWDOWN C.CALLAHAN
2 VENUS DELIGHT T.TETRICK
3 DIVINE CAROLINE D.MILLER
4 DEVIL CHILD D.MILLER
5 LADY SHADOW Y.GINGRAS
6 SKIPPIN BY Y.GINGRAS
7 INITTOWINAFORTUNE S.ZERON
8 FROST DAMAGE BLUES A.MILLER
9 BETTOR BE STEPPIN C.CALLAHAN
10 KATIE SAID B.MILLER
11 SOLAR SISTER D.MCNAIR
12 ANNDROVETTE T.TETRICK