Frosted Faces Tough Test in Met Mile
By Lenny Shulman, courtesy of Blood-Horse
A year after running second to American Pharoah in the Belmont Stakes, Frosted returns to New York for his first U.S. start this year.
The $1.25 million Mohegan Sun Metropolitan Handicap for older horses on the June 11 Belmont Stakes undercard will be the first stateside race of the season for Frosted, who has made both of his starts in Dubai this year, winning the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 before finishing fifth in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
As a 3-year-old last season, Frosted won the Twinspires.com Wood Memorial Stakes and Pennsylvania Derby. He carries a bankroll of better than $2.5 million into the Met Mile, and has in his corner trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who knows better than anyone how to bring a horse back to the U.S. racing after Dubai. McLaughlin trained for many years in the Emirates for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.
“Frosted couldn’t be doing any better. This race could be a little short for him, but we’re excited about it and I think there will be a lot of pace,” McLaughlin said.
Stanford is very likely to find himself on the lead in this race. He is shortening up from a 1 1/8-mile score in the Charles Town Classic after a pair of seconds in the Gulfstream Park Handicap and Fred W. Hooper Stakes. Last season, he ran second at Belmont in the WinStar Farm Easy Goer Stakes, and also was second in the Louisiana Derby. He brings earnings of more than $1.1 million into the race.
“Stanford has done very well this year,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He also did well at 3 but seems to have broken through to a different level this year. His Charles Town race was a great performance and was fun to watch, so we’re excited about him.”
Upstart failed to hold his form from early last year when he won the Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes and finished second in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes and Besilu Stables Florida Derby. He did come back to take the Razorback Handicap in March before coming home fifth in the Oaklawn Handicap at 1 1/8 miles.
Noble Bird has enjoyed a solid season thus far, checking in second in the Ben Ali Stakes before winning the Pimlico Special Handicap. He also has in his win column the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap from last season, and his form should stand him in good stead here.
Ami's Flatter is another who could jump up at solid odds. He is stretching out from a seven-furlong score in the Commonwealth Stakes in April. Donworth is a solid runner who owns thirds in the Charles Town Classic and San Antonio Stakes this year but hasn’t jumped up to win a graded stakes race to date.
Calculator is looking to break through this season after a trio of graded-stakes placings in the San Carlos Stakes, Carter Handicap, and Churchill Downs Stakes. He won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes last year at a mile and made a name for himself after running second to American Pharoah at 2 in the Frontrunner Stakes and Del Mar Futurity, both Grade 1 races.
Anchor Down took the prep race for the Met Mile when he scored in the Westchester Stakes at a mile in the mud at Belmont. He was third in both the Carter and Gulfstream Park Handicaps before that effort. Blofeld won the Gulfstream Park Handicap at a mile in March before he finished fourth in the Oaklawn Handicap at 1 1/8 miles. He won the Grade 2 Futurity Stakes at Belmont in 2014. Pletcher trains both Anchor Down and Blofeld.
“Anchor Down seemed to do really well in the Westchester by coming out running and I anticipate we’ll do the same thing with him,” Pletcher said. “Stanford and Blofeld are horses that can adapt to different running styles depending upon the pace of the race.”
Tamarkuz will be making his initial 2016 start in the Met Mile. He was unplaced in the race last year, and failed to place in either the Kelso Handicap or Forego Stakes. He did win the Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) and two Group 3 races in the United Arab Emirates last year, but he needs to regain that form here.
Sloane Avenue has raced just once in the U.S., and that resulted in an eighth in the Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont. He was second in the Godolphin Mile last year. Marking checked in second behind champion Runhappy in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes and broke his maiden at Belmont. He is lightly raced and will be making just his seventh start.
El Kabeir is another looking to recapture past form. He took the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in 2014 and the Gotham and Jerome Stakes last season, but this year has finished off the board in the Longines Dixie and San Antonio Stakes.