by John Furgele
Sham was a nice horse, a very nice horse. The problem for Sham was that he was born in 1970, the same year as Secretariat. The same can be said for the 1975 birth year for Alydar, who had to contend with Affirmed in 1978.
Frosted was born in 2012 and he, too, is a nice horse, but 2015 has been the year of American Pharoah, who of course, won the Triple Crown as well as three other stakes races this year. Frosted’s resume is a good one. A win in the $1 million Wood Memorial, fourth in the Kentucky Derby, second in the Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy and then third in the Travers. In the Travers, he pressed the pace and American Pharoah resulting in Keen Ice’s come-from-behind victory.
In yesterday’s Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby, Frosted got the top billing. He was the favorite and even though there were some very good horses entered, on paper he was the best. The question was what kind of race would the son of Tapit run? Would he go back to being a stalker and closer or would he employ the Travers strategy of staying near the front and pressing?
Ohio Derby winner Mr. Z set the pace, but the pace was tepid as Z cut fractions of 24.1, 48.2 and 1:12.2. Frosted moved into contention at the top of the stretch and when the leaders hit the mile in 1:38, Frosted was ready to go and that he did, covering the last furlong in a very quick 11.97 seconds. The Pennsylvania Derby, timing-wise, is the perfect prep race for the Breeder’s Cup Classic. Last year, Bayern won it en route to a Classic win and perhaps Frosted can do the same. The Travers was just three weeks ago and Frosted showed no signs of being worn out, adding to the fallacy that horses need more rest time. They don’t.
Frosted has been a contender in every race he has run. He got a poor trip in the Kentucky Derby, but never gave up and was doing his best running at the end to finish fourth. On Belmont Stakes day, while nobody was going to deny American Pharoah, Frosted did scare for the briefest of seconds when he came up on the Triple Crown winner at the top of the stretch. Pharoah dismissed him easily, but Frosted kept running and was clearly second best in the race. The Breeder’s Cup Classic will be fully loaded, but Frosted cannot be counted out.
The other big race at Parx was the 46th running of the Cotillion for 3-year fillies. Parx has a reputation for being speed favoring, but that wasn’t the case in the Derby or Cotillion. Calamity Kate was the pace setter, setting honest fractions of 23.2, 47.2 and 1:12.1. She fought gamely but when it was time to run, I’m a Chatterbox, the runner-up to Embellish the Lace in the Alabama, surged to win impressively in 1:44.2 for 1 1/16 miles. The daughter of Munnings pushed her career earnings to $1.3 million and picked up her fourth win of the year. Unlike the male 3-year-old division, there is no dominant filly, so the Breeder’s Cup Distaff should be a wide-open affair. I’m a Chatterbox should be a contender.
Trouble Kid took the $300,000 Gallant Bob Stakes. The gelding, the son of Harlan’s Holiday set blazing fractions of 21.1, 44.1 and then fought off Limousine Liberal to win in 1:10.56. The win was the first stakes win for Trouble Kid and his third straight. The gelding continues to improve and it will be interesting to see where his next race will be.
Encryption won the $150,000 Bayern Stakes in impressive fashion, roaring down the stretch in 1:44.1 for 1 1/16 miles. Uncle Dave took the lead from the gate, and then fought bravely, holding on to win the $100,000 Alphabet Soup Handicap in 1:44 for 1 1/16 miles.
In the end, American Pharoah did not grace Bensalem with his presence, but the crowd was solid and overall handle was $5.8 million. That’s a good number, but down from 2014 when California Chrome showed up to push handle over $10 million. In horse racing, it is about star power.
Parx may lack the charm of Saratoga, Keeneland and other tracks, but Pennsylvania Derby day has solidified itself on the calendar for horses that want to run in the Breeder’s Cup. Could Frosted be the next to pull off the Pennsylvania Derby-Breeder’s Cup Classic double? We’ll have to wait and see.