01/21/2012 1:38PM

Gulfstream Park: Force Freeze on the muscle in workout

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Barbara D. Livingston
Force Freeze, shown in a December photo, went the first three furlongs of his five-furlong work Saturday in 34.77 seconds.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – It was a sprinter kind of morning at Gulfstream Park on Saturday with the two most prominent names on the work tab Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up Force Freeze and the much improved Associate, who is coming off a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita.

Force Freeze had his most serious work since the Breeders’ Cup here Saturday, going five furlongs in 59.53 seconds late in the morning over what appeared to be a somewhat laboring racetrack. Force Freeze went off fast, a little too fast for trainer Peter Walder’s liking, getting his opening three-eighths in 34.77 before tiring just a bit under pressure coming to the wire.

“It wasn’t a bad work, 59 and 2,” said Walder. “It was a little faster than I wanted but he’s a smart horse and knows when he’s working. He’s so much different on Saturday than he is Monday through Friday. It would have been nice if he could have gone out in 37 and come home in 59 and 2 like he did in New York before the Vosburgh. I’ll put Paco on him next week and have him sit behind another horse.”

Walder was referring to jockey Paco Lopez, who rode Force Freeze in his first two U.S. starts last season, an impressive victory in Monmouth Park’s Teddy Drone and a narrow setback in the Grade 1 Vosburgh. Walder replaced Lopez for the Breeders’ Cup with John Velazquez, who guided Force Freeze to a runner-up finish behind Eclipse champion Amazombie.

“I’m going to put Paco back on him for his next start,” said Walder. “I just feel he gets this horse to relax better than anyone else.”

Force Freeze will launch his 2012 campaign in the seven-furlong, Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship on Feb. 18.

“If he can do the seven-eighths we’ll take him to Churchill for the race on Derby Day, if not he can go to Oaklawn for the Count Fleet,” said Walder. “I’m also planning on working him at Calder once before we leave here this spring to see if he likes the track because one of my short term goals this year is the Summit of Speed, which is a Win and You’re in Breeders’ Cup race.”

The race on Derby Day is the Grade 2, $400,000 Churchill Downs. The Grade 2 Smile would be Force Freeze’s race on the Summit of Speed card.

Associate, who could also wind up in the Gulfstream Sprint Championship, worked about two hours earlier than Force Freeze going six furlongs in 1:15.26 with splits of 25.88 and 50.48 under jockey Javier Castellano. He looked good galloping out seven-eighths in 1:27.48 and pulling up a mile in 1:41.

Associate has posted two easy victories since being claimed for $35,000 by trainer Rick Dutrow this summer at Saratoga. He failed to show his customary speed following a slow start in the Malibu but did finish with interest between horses to become Grade 1 stakes-placed in his 3-year-old finale.