06/16/2016 1:00PM

Crist: Frosted ran off the screen and to the top of the Beyer scale

Barbara D. Livingston
Frosted earned a 123 Beyer for his 14 1/4-length win in the Met Mile.

There were so many strong performances in Grade 1 races at Belmont Park last Saturday that the afternoon still seems like a blur of excellence. There were the dominant victories by the fillies Carina Mia in the Acorn, Cavorting in the Phipps, and Celestine in the Just a Game; there was a powerful season debut from Flintshire, the best grass horse in the country; and a dramatic triumph by Creator over Destin in the Belmont Stakes.

It was another race, however, that towered over all: Frosted’s breathtaking triumph in the Metropolitan Handicap. A generation from now, this is a race that will still be remembered for its sheer speed and brilliance.

Frosted won by a widening 14 1/4 lengths, nearly double Conquistador Cielo’s 1982 record margin for the race. His raw time of 1:32.73 for a mile was the fastest in the Met’s 125-year history and translated to a Beyer Speed Figure of 123 – the highest of the roughly 375,000 races run in North America since Midnight Lute earned a 124 in winning the 2007 Forego at Saratoga.

The first three-quarters of this Met Mile did not suggest that history would be made. Frosted was three to four lengths behind a solid but sensible pace of 23.42 and 45.95 seconds, then drew within a half-length of Anchor Down through six furlongs in 1:09.45. Then the goosebumps began. Frosted seemed to rebreak, running his final quarter faster than his first. His splits for the race were 23.42, 22.53, 23.50, and 23.28, with Joel Rosario wrapping up on him a few strides before the finish line.

The Belmont track was very quick Saturday, but the giant speed figure was straightforward, with several other stakes races at a mile or 1 1/16 miles on the card. Carina Mia’s Acorn went in 1:34.97, and the one-mile times of the Easy Goer and the Phipps were 1:34.00 and 1:34.02. The somewhat-modest winning figures of 99 for the Acorn, 100 for the Easy Goer, and 102 for the Phipps were made with the same track variant that was applied to the Met. The Belmont Stakes time of 2:28.51 was nearly 56 seconds slower than the Met for an additional half-mile.

Granted, this Met Mile field was not a strong one – the 10 entrants had earned a combined $9 million but won just two Grade 1 stakes – and no one but the winner fired his best shot. Gigantic speed figures usually require perfect storms, and Frosted had everything break in his favor, but there is no denying the excellence of the performance.

The 123 Beyer matches the career tops of Candy Ride, Saint Liam, and Silver Charm and has been exceeded by only nine horses in the 24 years that the figures have been published in Daily Racing Form: Ghostzapper (128); Formal Gold, Gentlemen, and Will’s Way (126s); Bertrando and Skip Away (125s); and Artax and Midnight Lute (124s).

As Met Miles during that period have gone, Frosted’s 123 has been exceeded only by Ghostzapper’s 124 in 2005 and was a point in front of Holy Bull’s 122 in 1995. While those two went on to Horse of the Year titles and Hall of Fame plaques, Frosted will have to do more just to take the leadership of the older-male Eclipse division from California Chrome, who beat him by 6 1/2 lengths in the Dubai World Cup.

Frosted’s connections, Godolphin Stables and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, plan to stretch him back out to nine furlongs in races such as the Whitney or Woodward. Then they will decide if they have a contender for the Breeders’ Cup Classic or the Dirt Mile. Frosted has never been remotely as impressive in his two-turn races, with a previous career-best 106 Beyer in winning the Pennsylvania Derby. He was no match for American Pharoah in four tries against him, and his lone previous Grade 1 win was a moderate Wood Memorial victory over Tencendur and El Kabeir.

Did Frosted turn a huge corner as a racehorse last Saturday, now ready to take on all comers, or did he find his perfect calling as a one-turn miler? That’s going to be one of the most intriguing questions of the second half of the racing season. Whatever the case, his Met Mile will stand as one of historic quality.