10/19/2011 11:53AM

Walder gets first chance to chase Breeders' Cup glory with Force Freeze in Sprint

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David Owens/Equi-Photo
Force Freeze, winner of the Teddy Drone at Monmouh, will gegt a rider switch to John Velazquez for the BC Sprint.

Trainer Peter Walder got a pretty good feel for what it’s like winning a Breeders’ Cup race last year when he joined his girlfriend, trainer Diane Alvarado, both in the winner’s circle and on the podium for the post-race press conference following Eldaafer’s victory in the Marathon. On Nov. 5, Walder will attempt to experience an even bigger thrill, saddling a Breeders’ Cup winner of his own, when he sends out Force Freeze in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Walder said aside from being Alvarado’s boyfriend and biggest supporter, his association with the 2010 Marathon winner really had to do with the help he provided putting together the ownership partnership that raised the money to supplement Eldaafer into the race.

“Diane was extremely upset last year because she said the horse was doing great but that her owner didn’t have the money to supplement him into the Marathon,” Walder recalled. “She knows that horse so well and I really trusted her judgment so when she told me that, I got hold of the IEAH people through Nick Salusto and they made the deal that got Eldaafer eligible for the Marathon. Diane did everything else.”

Force Freeze did not join Walder’s stable until late this spring and has started just twice since returning to the U.S. following an unsuccessful campaign in Dubai that concluded with a last-place finish in the Golden Shaheen. Force Freeze won right off the bat for Walder when he upset a strong field that included Grade 1 winner Jersey Town in Monmouth’s Teddy Drone on July 31. He followed that performance by finishing second behind Giant Ryan in the Grade 1 Vosburgh decided over a sloppy track.

“Our original plan was to run in the Icecapade at Monmouth on Labor Day weekend and go into the Sprint off a two-month freshening but when that race didn’t fill I had to go to Plan B and run him in the Vosburgh,” said Walder. “I thought he ran a great race that day against a little bit of a bias and over a track I don’t think he really cared for.”

Walder said Force Freeze looks like a different animal than the one who walked off the plane following the long trip from Dubai in May.

“When he came to me he was skinny, his coat was dull, and he was sore footed,” said Walder. “I think the last race in Dubai really took its toll and that’s why I gave him four months off before getting him back to the races.”

Force Freeze will also have a new rider for the Sprint with Walder’s close friend John Velazquez to replace Paco Lopez, who was aboard the 6-year-old in both the Teddy Drone and Vosburgh. .

“Paco did nothing wrong with this horse but Johnny and I have a long history together and he was available for the race so I couldn’t pass that up,” Walder explained.

Walder said Force Freeze will work twice more at Monmouth Park before departing for Kentucky, where he will be joined by Alvarado, who is bringing Eldaafer back to defend his title in the Marathon.

“I keep telling Diane how lucky she is to have already won a Breeders’ Cup race and to now have a chance to participate in the event for the third year in a row,” said Walder. “I’ve been training horses for 13 years and this is the first time I’ve had an opportunity like this and the fact we both are going there with a legitimate chance to win a race is unbelievable.”