Earlier in the week, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin actually expressed concern that the eight-furlong distance of the Grade I, $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap might be a tad short for his Grade I winner Frosted.
The race that is known as a stallion-maker ended up as the ultimate advertisement for the son of Tapit’s brilliance.
The 148th Belmont Stakes was technically the day’s headline event, but Frosted had all the jaws dropping earlier on the card when he took over at the head of the lane and kept going with condescending ease en route to a 14 1/4 -length Met Mile triumph.
The Met Mile was one of five Grade I races held on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
In his first outing since finishing a disappointing fifth in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 26, Frosted was shortening up to one mile for the first time since breaking his maiden over that distance at Aqueduct in October 2014.
The gray colt has never been more ruthless than he was Saturday. After rating midpack in the 10-horse field while Noble Bird was pushed through opening fractions of 22.78 and 45.35, Frosted jumped into the bridle when roused by jockey Joel Rosario on the far turn, turning the 123rd running of the Met Mile into a singular showcase.
Sent off as the favorite, Frosted cruised under the wire well in hand, and his final time of 1:32.73 was a stakes record and just off the track record of 1:32.24 set by Najran in 2003. Anchor Down held for second, one length ahead of third-place finisher Upstart.
“He is a special horse, and it’s great to see him get a win like this,” McLaughlin said. “It was a wild, wild race. He has been doing great all the time and you say that every time that they are doing great, but for him to beat that great of horses like that is pretty incredible.”
Frosted’s Met Mile effort was a deserving spotlight outing for the Godolphin Stables homebred. Last season, he chased Triple Crown winner American Pharoah to futile results, running fourth in the 2015 Kentucky Derby and second in the Belmont Stakes.
He was given a freshening after his seventh-place outing in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and captured the Grade II Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 at Meydan Racecourse in his seasonal bow on Feb. 4. Frosted improves his record to five wins from 16 starts and $3,182,800 in earnings.
Carina Mia rallies in Acorn Stakes
Even after watching Carina Mia run by Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia in the stretch of Saturday’s Grade I, $700,000 Acorn Stakes, trainer Bill Mott refused to indulge himself in the game of what-might-have-been had the daughter of Malibu Moon been able to run a few hours later on May 6.
The Hall of Famer instead focused on the future as the dark bay filly used her new running dimension to earn a 1 1/4 -length victory in the one-mile test for her first top-level win.
Owned by Three Chimneys Farm, Carina Mia began 2016 as one of the leading candidates for the Kentucky Oaks. With her winter base of Payson Park Training Center being under quarantine for three weeks due to an outbreak of Equine Herpesvirus-1, she was only able to have one prep race, running fourth in the Grade I Ashland Stakes on April 9 and failing to earn enough points to make the Oaks field.
Her six-length victory in the Grade II Eight Belles Stakes on the Oaks undercard was a statement in itself. In that outing, she abandoned her normal front-running ways and came from off the pace, a style she duplicated to equally stellar results in the Acorn when she rated sixth through fractions of 23.05 and 46.17.
“We were supposed to have a prep race in early March and it didn’t work out, so we didn’t get another chance to gather enough points (for the Oaks),” Mott said. “The Acorn is a very prestigious race. I’m not looking back, we’ll just look forward.”
In the day’s other Grade I races, Cavorting succeeded in putting a whole new set of options on the table for herself when she captured $1 million Odgen Phipps Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths in her first try stretching out beyond one mile; European turf sensation Flintshire looked every bit the star when he captured the $1 million Woodford Reserve Manhattan by 1 3/4 lengths; and Mott-trainee Celestine scored a scintillating victory in the $700,000 Just a Game, shattering the previous stakes record when she blazed 1 mile in 1:31.64.