June 18, 2024

Mr Freeze turns back Aurelius Maximus in Fayette

Mr Freeze
Mr Freeze inside) wins the Fayette Stakes (Coady Photography)

Mr Freeze withstood the late surge of Aurelius Maximus in Saturday’s $200,000 Fayette (G2) at Keeneland. Now a four-time graded stakes winner, the 5-year-old horse was favored at 8-5 with Javier Castellano.

Dale Romans, who trains the chestnut for Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister, said connections will consider their options for the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland.

“We’re going to have to talk about it,” Romans said. “We talked about the Dirt Mile (G1) before, but we’ll have to talk about everything (Mile and 1 1/4-mile Classic [G1]). Everything’s on the table.”

Mr Freeze snapped a three-race losing streak prevailing by a neck. A three-length winner of the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) in late February, he opened this year with a runner-up in the Pegasus World Cup (G1). The son of To Honor and Serve concluded last year with a second in the Fayette and a third in the Clark (G1).

He didn’t receive the best trip from post 6, traveling wide into both turns of the 1 1/8-mile race Fayette. Mr Freeze was fourth after an opening quarter-mile in :24, and began to edge closer along the backstretch as Mo Mosa showed the way through a half-mile in :49.06.

The leaders bunched up entering the far turn. Mr Freeze surged four-wide to the front before the completion of the bend, edging away to lead by a couple of lengths entering the stretch. Aurelius Maximus, who was shuffled back to fourth in traffic on the final turn, rallied determinedly back into contention in the final furlong, nearly drawing even late, but Mr Freeze was able to turn him back under the wire.

“I like the way everything unfolded in the right place for my horse,” Castellano said. “Usually my horse goes to the lead, but they got the jump on us in the first turn. I was in really good position outside. Turning for home, I was very encouraged that he would get it done. He fought all the way to the wire and never let the other horse pass him. I am very proud of him. “

“Today he ran like his old self,” Romans added. “That was a rough trip for him. I wasn’t expecting him to be four wide on both turns and stalking horses, but he showed what a good horse he really is.”

Mr Freeze was timed in 1:50.71.

Aurelius Maximus, the 4-1 second choice, finished about a length better than 5-1 Title Ready in third. Coastal Defense was another neck back in fourth, and Captivating Moon, Rated R Superstar, Crafty Daddy, Mirinaque, and Mo Mosa completed the order.

Bred in Kentucky by Sienna Farm, Mr Freeze was purchased for $75,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. He’s now earned $1.561,950 from a 16-6-4-2 career record.

Out of the multiple stakes-placed It’s Freezing mare Hard Freeze, Mr Freeze earned his first stakes win in the 2018 West Virginia Derby (G3) and also captured last year’s Ack Ack (G3).