Godolphin didn’t make the right decision pointing Frosted for the Breeders’ Cup Classic instead of the Dirt Mile. They made the only decision.
Although many feel the son of Tapit has a better shot to win the Dirt Mile, there is absolutely no reason for Godolphin to pass up an opportunity to run in America’s richest race against the two highest ranked horses in the world to compete in a race whose winners for the most part are soon forgotten and where an outside post position could spell disaster.
The only reason to run in the Dirt Mile is the chance to win a grade I stakes with a $1 million purse. In this case, Godolphin has already won three grade I stakes with Frosted and the $1 million purse is chump change for an international power whose main goal is to win major races all over the world. Who knows if they will ever have an opportunity to run a horse as talented as Frosted in the Classic again?
Godolphin is also an organization that strives on placing as high a stud value on a horse as they can. To build up their stallion roster back in 2006 they even had the audacity to retire Bernardini, a horse whose future on the track as a 4-year-old looked limitless. As we all know, breeders are always looking for milers to boost a future stallion’s reputation and attract huge prices at the sales. After the freakish performance Frosted turned in this past spring in the most prestigious mile race in the country, the Metropolitan Handicap, that reputation is more than secure, and no victory in a two-turn mile is going to enhance it. In today’s stallion market, there is nothing more enticing than a Met Mile winner by Tapit. If they want to put a stamp on that spectacular 14 1/4-length Met Mile romp in a blazing 1:32 3/5, they can always run him back in the one-turn Cigar Mile at the end of November.
But a two-turn mile might just as well be a mile and 70 yards or 1 1/16 miles. A mile race is intended to test a horse’s speed, stamina, and toughness, making it the most difficult distance in which a horse can compete. And only a one-turn mile tests all three of those attributes.
For now, Godolphin has a fresh, sharp horse with tons of class sitting on a big race and there is no reason for them to take the lower road. Yes, it has been bantered about everywhere on social media that Frosted cannot beat California Chrome and Arrogate, and perhaps some of the others, going a mile and a quarter, considering he’s never won at that distance. That may be true, but we’re not exactly talking about stretching out Runhappy or some other brilliant one-turn horse.
Frosted may be winless at a mile and a quarter, and he did run the worst race of his career in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic for some inexplicable reason (perhaps it was just one race too many after a long hard campaign), but that by no means eliminates his chances in this year’s Classic. He did close from 14th to finish fourth, beaten only three lengths, in the Kentucky Derby. He did finish second to American Pharoah in the Belmont Stakes, and his own time of 2:27 3/5 for the mile and a half would have won 11 of the last 12 Belmonts.
In the Travers, he received an extremely questionable ride from a jockey who had never ridden him before and who decided to go head and head with American Pharoah, running suicidal third and fourth quarters in :23 1/5 and :23 3/5. That did in both horses, setting it up for the come-from-behind Keen Ice. As it turned out, Frosted, who was taken totally out of his game, still finished only 2 1/4 lengths behind the Triple Crown winner and was beaten only three lengths for all the money.
This year, Frosted destroyed his field in the 1 3/16-mile Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 in Dubai, winning by five lengths. He regressed off that performance and never really fired in the Dubai World Cup, finishing fifth. But he certainly wasn’t disgraced, finishing 5 1/4 lengths behind California Chrome. And Frosted did run in both races without Lasix for the first time since he was a 2-year-old. Remember, this is a colt who had undergone a minor surgical procedure early in this 3-year-old campaign to correct a breathing problem.
So, it’s not as if Frosted has been a total bust at a mile and a quarter. No one is saying he can or is going to knock off California Chrome and Arrogate and the others. But this is the race in which he should be running. And let’s face it, Santa Anita is not the most difficult track for horses trying to get the mile and a quarter. Just look at Melatonin’s sprint/mile pedigree and his races prior to winning the Santa Anita Handicap – nine consecutive sprints at 6 and 6 1/2 furlongs and one allowance score at 1 1/16 miles, then, boom, a wire-to-wire victory by 4 1/2 lengths in the Big Cap.
After his easy victory in the Whitney, Frosted finished third, beaten two heads, in the Woodward in a race where he had to go so wide turning for home, he certainly had to run farther than a mile and an eighth. He also may have regressed a bit following two brilliant performances after returning from Dubai and a 2 1/2-month layoff. It is a difficult task winning two mile and an eighth grade I stakes at the Saratoga meet. Now he goes into the Classic fresh, just as he did in the Met Mile, after spending several months training in Greentree’s idyllic horse haven.
Forget where he has a better chance. This is Godolphin. Anyone who believes he should be in the Dirt Mile, if you would have been unable to name off the top of your head the first six Dirt Mile winners – Corinthian, Albertus Maximus, Furthest Land, Dakota Phone, Caleb’s Posse, and Tapizar – then you know why Frosted should take his chance in the Classic.
After his Met Mile demolition and his monstrous 123 Beyer speed figure, a victory in the Dirt Mile would not boost his stud value any more than would a third-place finish in the Classic. But if Frosted should have another of those extraordinary days, like he had at Belmont this spring, then he has a chance to become the first horse ever to win the Met Mile and the Breeders’ Cup Classic in the same year and the only horse other than Hall of Famer Ghostzapper to win both races. Ghostzapper did it at ages 4 and 5.
As mentioned earlier, many do not believe Frosted has much of a shot of defeating California Chrome and Arrogate at a mile and a quarter, but we really have no idea what to expect from Arrogate. And as The Giant Killer Allen Jerkens used to say, “Never be afraid of one horse.”
It is also important to note that Frosted, like California Chrome, has improved with age and maturity and is not the same horse we all saw chasing American Pharoah last year. Like Chrome, he has grown into a man and is so much more professional. Any horse who has a performance like the Met Mile in him can explode on any given day, especially when fresh and well rested, which Frosted will be.
In conclusion, the Classic needs Frosted to provide some additional spark other than California Chrome vs. Arrogate. He’s a veteran of all the major battles and his trainer has already knocked off a seemingly unbeatable horse in the Breeders’ Cup Classic when he upset Bernardini with Invasor, who also was coming off a layoff.
So, whether you give Frosted any chance at all, we should welcome his presence in the Classic. All we have to do is think back to his spectacular performance in the Met Mile and remember, in the words from Frosty the Snowman, “how he came to life one day.”