Jim Bakke and Gerry Isbister's Mr Freeze, runner-up to Mucho Gusto in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Runhappy Jan. 25, will try to stop his rivals in their tracks and roll to victory in Saturday's $300,000 Gulfstream Park Mile (G2).
The Gulfstream Park Mile will be one of 10 stakes, nine graded, worth $1.95 million on Saturday's Gulfstream program that will be highlighted by the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G1).
Mr Freeze won the Ack Ack (G3) at Churchill Downs in September before finishing second in the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland and third in the Clark (G2) at Churchill, as well as his solid second in the Pegasus World Cup. Trainer Dale Romans said he thinks there's more room for improvement.
“I don't think we've gotten a perfect trip or the best out of him,” said Romans, who will also saddle Dennis' Moment for a start in the Fountain of Youth.
The 5-year-old son of To Honor and Serve set the pace into the stretch in the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus World Cup before being overtaken by Mucho Gusto, continuing on gamely to finish 4 ¾ lengths clear of third-place finisher War Story.
Although it would seem that Mr Freeze is getting better with age, the chestnut Kentucky-bred performed extremely well as a 3-year-old, winning his first two starts before finishing second in the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows and scoring a six-length victory in the West Virginia Derby (G3) at Mountaineer Park. He then finished off the board in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Park and a lone turf try at Gulfstream.
“As a 3-year-old he was really going in the right direction, he ran so well in the West Virginia Derby. But he had a little issue in his throat. We did a little surgery and fixed it. It's amazing that he's come back good and has run so well,” Romans said. “It may be his best distance. It's a Catch 22. A horse little him I think is better if you go further if they'll leave you alone on the lead and you can kick home the last part of it – make it a sprint for home. But he's shown he can go gate to wire at the distance.”
Manuel Franco has the call on Mr Freeze.
Romans is also represented in the Gulfstream Park Mile entries by Frank Jones and Churchill Downs Racing Club's Rare Form, who finished third in the Jan. 25 Fred W. Hooper (G3) at Gulfstream.
“He had a good third going a mile last time, Romans said. “He's a good horse; he keeps showing up.”
Flavien Prat has the call aboard Rare Form, a 5-year-old son of The Factor.
Shadwell Stable LLC's Haikal, who was nosed out for the win in a Jan. 5 optional claiming allowance at Aqueduct in his first start in eight months, will be on a quest to regain the graded-stakes form he showed on the 2019 Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) in the Gulfstream Park Mile.
“He ran very well last time just losing by a nose coming off a long layoff,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “We were very pleased with the effort, and he's trained very well since.”
Haikal won the Jimmy Winkfield and the Gotham (G3) prior to finishing second in the Wood Memorial (G3) last year at Aqueduct. Unfortunately, the son of Daahar was scratched with a foot abscess the day before the Kentucky Derby.
“He's matured. He looks great,” McLaughlin said. “Everything is good with him and we hope for the best.”
McLaughlin-trained True Timber, who finished far back in the Pegasus World Cup, will return in the Gulfstream Park Mile. Calumet Farm's 6-year-old son of Mineshaft had finished third in the mile Kelso (G2), the seven-furlong Bold Ruler (G3) and Cigar Mile (G1) in his three races leading up to the Pegasus World Cup.
“Going back to a mile should help,” McLaughlin said. “He's always tried hard.”
Phat Man and Zenden, who finished first and second, respectively, in the Fred W. Hooper, will both return in the Gulfstream Park Mile.
Marianne Stribling, Force Five Racing LLC and Two Rivers Racing Stables LLC's Phat Man, who had finished second behind War Story in the Dec. 14 Harlan's Holiday (G3), closed from eighth to catch the pacesetting Zenden to win the mile Hooper by a length. Trained by Kent Sweezey, the 6-year-old son of Munnings will be ridden by Javier Castellano.
LLP Performance Horse LLC's Zenden, who will be seeking his first stakes victory, was also graded stakes-placed while finishing second in the seven-furlong Swale (G3) last season at Gulfstream Park.
Trainer Todd Pletcher named John Velazquez to ride the 4-year-old son of Fed Biz.
Something Special Racing LLC's Hog Creek Hustle will bring Grade 1 credentials into the Gulfstream Park Mile, having captured the seven-furlong Woody Stephens (G1) on the Belmont Stakes undercard last year. The Vickie Foley-trained 4-year-old son of Overanalyze, who also finished second in the seven-furlong H. Allen Jerkens (G1) at Saratoga, finished second in the Jan. 18 Duncan Kenner Stakes at Fair Grounds in his first start since finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita Nov. 2.
Tyler Gaffalione is scheduled to ride Hog Creek Hustle for the first time Saturday.
Top Racing LLC, Global Thoroughbreds LLC and GDS Racing Stable's Bodexpress will return to action in the Gulfstream Park Mile after finishing fifth in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational. The Gustavo Delgado-trained 4-year-old son of Bodexpress, who pressed the pace into the stretch before faltering, had previously finished third in the Harlan's Holiday.
Emisael Jaramillo has the return call.
Norm Casse-trained Do Share enters the Gulfstream Park Mile off a third-place finish in the Kenner, in which he finished three-quarters of a length behind Hog Creek Hustle. Owned by A. J. Suited Racing Stable LLC, the 7-year-old gelded son of Candy Ride was claimed for $62,500 five starts back and has been in the money in four subsequent starts.
Julien Leparoux has been awarded the return mount.
Partner Stable LLC's Forever Mo, Joseph Bucci's Musical Heart, All In The Family Racing's Expert round out the field.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.