Photo Credit: Ryan Thompson
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Jim Bakke and Gerry Isbister’s Mr. Freeze, runner-up in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Runhappy Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park, produced a decisive victory in Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Mile (G2).
The Gulfstream Park Mile, a one-turn mile for older horses, was one of 10 stakes, including nine graded stakes, worth $1.95 million in purses on Saturday’s 14-race program that was headlined by the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2), a key prep for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) March 28 at Gulfstream.
Trained by Dale Romans, Mr. Freeze, who was unable to gain on pacesetting Mucho Gusto in the Pegasus to lose by 4 ½ lengths, asserted his class during a powerful stretch run to win by three lengths under Manuel Franco.
“This might be a breakthrough race for him,” Romans said. “I always thought there was more there.”
The 5-year-old son of To Honor and Serve broke well from the starting gate to obtain prime outside stalking position just behind pacesetting Bodexpress and the Romans-trained Rare Form along the backstretch. Bodexpress set fractions of 23.27 and 45.32 seconds for the first half-mile under Emisael Jaramillo with outside pressure from Rare Form. Mr. Freeze made a three-wide move to the lead around the tiring pacesetters on the turn into the homestretch and powered away from his 10 rivals in the stretch.
“I just followed the instructions. [Dale] told me to keep the horse close to the pace and when I saw those two horses going, I just decided to settle and sit third,” Franco said. “He was taking me the whole way so I was waiting for the right moment to make my move, and he responded.”
Phat Man made a wide sweeping move on the turn into the homestretch under Javier Castellano and rallied to finish second, five lengths ahead of Hog Creek Hustle and jockey Tyler Gaffalione.
Mr. Freeze ran a mile in 1:34.80 to win his fifth race in 12 starts while turning him a career performance.
“That was big. It’s the first time I’ve seen him turn the corner and just kick on and draw off from them,” Romans said. “I think he needed that for his confidence probably. I think the Pegasus boosted his confidence a lot.”
Mr. Freeze 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. He went on to win the mile Ack Ack (G3) at Churchill Downs in September and was graded-stakes placed in the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland, the Clark (G1) at Churchill and the Pegasus last time out.
“This horse is a really talented horse. He had a little hiccup last year and he got over it,” Romans said. “He’s been invited to the Godolphin Mile, so if he comes out of this well, that’s where we’ll head. Milers are great to have.”
The Godolphin Mile (G1) will be run on the undercard of the Dubai World Cup March 28.