09/04/2016 12:11PM

Woodward's top four finishers could meet again in BC Classic

Barbara D. Livingston
The top four finishers of The Woodward on Saturday were separated by only a neck.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Though decisions are far from finalized, the top four finishers from Saturday’s Grade 1 Woodward Stakes could meet again in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 5.

Shaman Ghost, Mubtaahij, Frosted, and Breaking Lucky were separated by a neck at the wire in a race where 2-5 favorite Frosted had an extremely wide trip after breaking slowly.

While Shaman Ghost was the winner, Kiaran McLaughlin, the trainer of second- and third-place finishers Mubtaahij and Frosted, felt Frosted ran the best race.

“We were the best horse, finished third,” McLaughlin said Sunday morning. “We ran forty feet farther than the winner, gave the winner four pounds and the runner-up six pounds. So, anyway you look at it, we were the best. We’re disappointed in the results; we didn’t feel he could get beat even with all those variables.”

McLaughlin said Frosted came out of the race in good order, noting he was nickering when he returned to the Greentree Training Center immediately after the race, similar to what he did after winning the Grade 1 Whitney.

“That’s a good sign,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said that no decision has been made on what’s next for Frosted, but he said the horse would “probably” skip the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup _and the Grade 1 Kelso _ on Oct. 8 and point to the Breeders’ Cup.

McLaughlin said the ultimate decision whether to point Frosted to the Classic at 1 1/4 miles or the $1 million Dirt Mile would be made by Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, the head of Godolphin Racing. Jimmy Bell, Godolphin’s U.S. representative, said Sheikh Mohammed is “dialed in” when it comes to Frosted.

“It’s great to have him that interested,” Bell said.

Frosted’s victories in the Metropolitan Handicap and the Whitney _ both Grade 1 races _ had him in discussion for Horse of the Year, a title that he could make a case for by running in the Classic against horses such as California Chrome. Frosted is 0 for 3 at 1 1/4 miles, but McLaughlin seems undeterred by that stat.

“If it was a mile and a quarter yesterday, we would have won,” McLaughlin said. “But again, it’s a mile or a mile and a quarter.”

Jockey Joel Rosario didn’t use the whip on Frosted because the horse “responds in a negative way” to being whipped, “so he didn’t hit him,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin did say that Woodward runner-up Mubtaahij “ran great” and would start next in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Mubtaahij has run only twice since finishing second to California Chrome in the Dubai World Cup, that being a third in the Suburban at Belmont and the Woodward.

Jimmy Jerkens has two horses pointing to the Classic. Shaman Ghost stepped up to win his first U.S. Grade 1 in the Woodward after winning the Grade 2 Brooklyn earlier in the year and running fifth in the Grade 2 Suburban.

In the Woodward, Shaman Ghost was racing on Lasix for the first time which “didn’t hurt,” he said.

Jerkens said that Shaman Ghost came out of the race well and he would discuss with owner Frank Stronach and his racing representatives whether to run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup or train up to the Classic. The spacing between the Woodward and the Classic is nine weeks. It was eight weeks from the Suburban to the Woodward.

“It does seem like you can train him to a race,” Jerkens said.

Shaman Ghost earned a 106 Beyer Speed Figure for the Woodward performance.

Jerkens also has Effinex, the Suburban winner, to run in the Jockey Gold Cup as a prep for the Classic. Effinex finished second to American Pharoah in last year’s Classic.

Breaking Lucky, who traded decisions with Shaman Ghost during the 2015 Canadian Triple Crown series, could also be pointed to the Classic, according to trainer Reade Baker. Breaking Lucky was pursuing the pace-setting Bradester early and was still hanging around late, getting beat a neck while running fourth.

“We were thrilled, race of his life,” Baker said Sunday.

Baker said he would discuss the future with his owners, Gunpowder Farms, but said he would like to point to the Classic.

“I think he’ll improve off this race,” Baker said. “He’s getting good right now, he’s much better than he was last year.”

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