Frosted’s eclipse in Woodward Stakes puts brakes on Breeders’ Cup Classic ambitions

Geoffrey Riddle writes Frosted's third-place finish in the Woodward Stakes on Saturday underscores that 'the colt is not good enough to beat California Chrome' in November.
Godolphin horse Frosted shown at the Belmont Stakes last year. Julie Jacobson / AP Photo
Godolphin horse Frosted shown at the Belmont Stakes last year. Julie Jacobson / AP Photo

Frosted’s eclipse by Shaman Ghost and Mubtaahij at Saratoga on Saturday underlined that the Godolphin colt is not good enough to beat California Chrome in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November.

Shaman Ghost won the 1,800-metre Grade 1 Woodward Stakes by a head from Mubtaahij, who confirmed his verdict in the Dubai World Cup over Frosted by holding him at bay by a neck.

Frosted’s defeat was an aggregation of marginal losses.

Even if all of those aspects were all worked on he is still likely to come up short at Santa Anita should he even take on his World Cup conqueror California Chrome.

Both Shaman Ghost and Mubtaahij could well meet again in the US$1million (Dh3.67m) Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on October 8.

Where Frosted goes now will be a hot topic of debate for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, Godolphin’s racing manager and CEO John Ferguson, and owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The grey son of Tapit may have finished second to American Pharoah in the Belmont Stakes last year over 2,400m but he seems at his best over 1,800m around one turn.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Jockey Club Gold Cup are both staged over 2,000m, a distance over which Frosted is yet to finish better than third in four starts.

The Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on October 1 is the likely Breeders’ Cup prep for California Chrome, who beat Frosted by over five lengths at Meydan.

California Chrome has continued firing on all cylinders since his return from Dubai in March.

Before the Woodward, McLaughlin was leaning towards giving Frosted a break as preparation for the Classic.

That now looks the right thing to do.

Frosted is also entered in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile courtesy of his astonishing victory by 14 lengths in the Metropolitan Mile in June.

That race is staged around two turns and is not a contest that McLaughlin was entertaining prior to Saturday’s setback.

What Godolphin can take from the Saratoga race is that Frosted was only marginally beaten and had to give Shaman Ghost 1.8 kilograms and Mubtaahij 2.7kg.

Frosted and Joel Rosario lost the Woodward Stakes at the start when he broke poorly and stood sixth after the first 400m off a sedate pace.

Rosario made a move on the home turn but was forced wide, entering the stretch around 10 feet off the rail, according to the Trakus data.

It resulted in Frosted running 41 feet farther than the winner, who was angled back in to the rail by canny jockey Javier Castellano.

Rosario’s early move ensured that although Frosted looked as if he was coming with a late charge up the centre of the track, in fact he was merely emptying the petrol gauge at a crucial stage of the race.

In the final 200m Shaman Ghost and Mubtaahij were running at 37 miles per hour, while Frosted had to make do with a fading 36 miles per hour.

With the fact that Frosted does not like to be encouraged with a whip, Rosario had nothing else in his locker but to simply sit tight and go down fighting.

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Published: September 4, 2016 04:00 AM

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