By Lynne Snierson
Now about to jump into the deep end against top level competition in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1), 5-year-old Mr Freeze returns to action after finishing third, beaten 6 ½ lengths, in the Clark (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29.
Mr Freeze is one of five 30-1 long shots for Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile race, and will be ridden by Luis Saez leaving from post No. 8.
After the son of dual Grade 1 winner To Honor and Serve won the Ack Ack (G3) on Sept. 28 at Churchill Downs, trainer Dale Romans pointed him to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), but instead opted to skip it and keep him in Kentucky to race.
The decision proved to be a wise one as Mr Freeze then contested the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland on Oct. 26 and was the runner-up. His 4-year-old campaign ended with the Clark.
As a 3-year-old, Mr Freeze was kept off the Triple Crown trail and that was also to his benefit. He was one cool customer when using his front-running style to ice the competition in the 2018 West Virginia Derby (G3).
After disappointing with an eighth-place finish in the 2018 Pennsylvania Derby (G1), Romans stopped on him and didn’t bring him back until mid-January last year when he was seventh in the Tropical Turf (G3) on the Gulfstream Park lawn.
Mr Freeze has been working steadily at Gulfstream since the Clark, most recently breezing an easy 5 furlongs in 1:03.92 on Jan. 11. That effort followed a 5-furlong work in 1:00.38 a week earlier.
Post position: No. 8
Jockey: Luis Saez
Trainer: Dale Romans
Owners: Jim Baake and Gerald Isbister
Career record: 10 4-3-1
Career earnings: $639,110
Pedigree: To Honor and Serve-Heavenly Cat, by Tabasco Cat
Running style: Front-runner
“Grade B stakes type doesn’t belong in here.’’ – Ed McNamara
“Two-time G3 winner … Tried G1 company last time out in the Clark at this 1 1/8-mile distance but came-up short in third.’’ – Noel Michaels
Notes: Romans, the Eclipse Award-winning trainer in 2012, has won three Breeders’ Cups — the 2009 Juvenile Fillies Turf (Tapitsfly), the 2011 Mile (Court Vision) and the 2012 Turf (Little Mike); one Triple Crown race (2011 Preakness, Shackleford); and the Dubai World Cup (2005, Roses in May) … One of biggest accomplishments came in defeating 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah with Keen Ice in Travers. … Keen Ice ran fourth in the 2017 Pegasus World Cup … Romans-trained Singing Bullet was 11th in last year’s PWC … Mr Freeze’s maternal grandsire Tabasco Cat, who won the 1994 Preakness and Belmont Stakes … owners Baake and Isbister have had horses together since 2007, but Mr Freeze has delivered their only graded stakes win.
|1||True Timber||Joe Bravo||Kiaran McLaughlin||15-1|
|2||Tax||Jose Ortiz||Danny Gargan||8-1|
|3||Diamond Oops||Julien Leparoux||Patrick Biancone||15-1|
|4||Seeking the Soul||John Velazquez||Dallas Stewart||30-1|
|5||Omaha Beach (SCR)||Mike Smith||Richard Mandella||SCR|
|6||Higher Power||Flavien Prat||John Sadler||6-1|
|7||War Story||Joel Rosario||Elizabeth Dobles||30-1|
|8||Mr Freeze||Luis Saez||Dale Romans||20-1|
|5||Spun to Run (SCR)||Javier Castellano||Juan Carlos Guerrero||SCR|
|10||Mucho Gusto||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Bob Baffert||9-2|
|11||Tenfold||Tyler Gaffalione||Steve Asmussen||30-1|
|12||Bodexpress||Emisael Jaramillo||Gustavo Delgado||30-1|
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Lynne Snierson, a former director of communications at Arlington Park and Rockingham Park, currently is a freelance writer and racing publicist. She covered thoroughbred racing as an award-winning sportswriter for newspapers In Boston, Miami, and St. Louis. She lives in New Hampshire. Secretariat remains her all-time favorite horse.