08/06/2016 7:30PM

Frosted rides Whitney to spot in Breeders' Cup Classic

Barbara D. Livingston
Frosted gained a berth in the Breeders' Cup Classic with Saturday's victory.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. _ Frosted flashed to the front around the first turn of Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.25 million Whitney Stakes at Saratoga and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin admitted to having flashbacks to last year’s Travers Stakes.

That hot August day, McLaughlin was worried that Frosted, who under Jose Lezcano was pressing the pace of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, couldn’t keep it up for 1 1-4 miles. Frosted didn't, and he finished third, beaten three lengths by Keen Ice.

On this hot August Saturday, in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney, McLaughlin seemed less concerned that Frosted was on the lead and setting rapid fractions because of the presence of jockey Joel Rosario on Frosted’s back.

After running six furlongs in 1:09.65 with Noble Bird off his flank, Frosted still had plenty left with which to finish and he bounced home a two-length winner of the Whitney before a crowd of 39,405, including Marylou Whitney. Comfort got up for second, by a half-length over Upstart, who nosed out Effinex for third. Noble Bird and El Kabeir completed the order of finish.

The win earned Frosted a fees-paid berth into the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.

And it came eight weeks after Frosted put forth an otherworldly performance winning the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap by 14 1/4 lengths while running the fastest mile in the 123-year history of the race.

Frosted set fractions Saturday of 23.11 seconds for the quarter, 46.42 for the half-mile, 1:09.65 for six furlongs with Noble Bird off his flank. He opened up to a three-length lead in mid-stretch after running a mile in 1:34.52, and covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.77. Frosted returned $3 as the 1-2 favorite.

“He might have regressed a little bit, but not the way it looks winning a mile and an eighth like he did, in hand, winning as fast as he ran,” said McLaughlin, who trains Frosted for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Racing. “It’s very special, it’s a privilege to have the horse in our barn for such great owners and such great people and I hope one day I can say he’s the best horse I ever trained.”

Rosario was supposed to ride Frosted in last year’s Travers, but got injured in a spill two races earlier; he was replaced by Lezcano.  Though he had never had Frosted on the lead before, Rosario said the horse put him there and he didn’t want to fight him.

“I know he was probably going a little too fast _ more than normal _ but the race he ran the other day going a mile I thought it probably was going to have him a little sharp,” Rosario said. “I was cruising the whole way, felt very relaxed and I just saved something for the end.”

“I was still a little concerned,” McLaughlin said, owing to Frosted’s six-furlong fraction. “But he was going the right way. For Joel to be there he had to have a lot of horse. He just gets on great with this horse, he really fits this horse well.”

Frosted became the fifth horse in the last 26 years to win both the Met Mile and Whitney in the same year. Honor Code did it last year.

“It’s another [$1.25 million] race that we won, a Grade 1, but the Met Mile ... it’s hard to compare to that, but he did it the right way and it was very impressive,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said this performance confirmed that he would be pointed to the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic. Now, McLaughlin must decide whether to run him again or train him up to the race.

In 2006, Invasor won the Whitney and then didn’t run again until the Classic, which he won over Bernardini.

If McLaughlin decides to run Frosted before the Classic, the options include the Grade 1 Woodward here on Sept. 3, or the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Oct. 8.

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