Force Freeze continued to impress trainer Peter Walder Feb. 4 while preparing for a scheduled start in the Gulfstream Park Sprint (gr. II) in two weeks. The 7-year-old gelding, second in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) in his 2011 finale, turned in his third straight bullet workout, covering six furlongs in 1:10 4/5.
Jockey Paco Lopez was aboard for the workout and will ride Force Freeze for the first time in his debut in the seven-furlong sprint.
“If the race were six furlongs, I’d walk him out and wait in the winner’s circle,” Walder said. “But the race is seven-eighths. I’m just a little leery about the seven-eighths. He’s doing great and Paco said he’ll have no problem getting seven-eighths. But seven-eighths can be a tricky distance.”
Force Freeze has never run beyond six furlongs in eight starts in the U.S., including his first five races before being exported to Dubai and his three starts for Walder last year after his return to the U.S.
Force Freeze debuted for Walder with a triumph in the ungraded Teddy Drone Stakes at Monmouth last August before stepping up to grade I company in his next two starts. He finished second, a half-length behind Giant Ryan, in the Vosburgh (gr. I) at Belmont before losing to Amazombie by a neck in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Also notable on the Gulfstream work tab Saturday morning was Shackleford , who breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 in preparation for the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) Feb. 11. The 2011 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner was ridden by jockey Jesus Castanon.
“It was what we were looking for,” trainer Dale Romans said.
The move was the latest in a string of solid workouts in preparation for his first start since finishing a long and productive 2011 campaign with a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
“He hasn’t missed a beat. He hasn’t missed a beat in his life,” Romans said. “It’s nature. He’s just tough."
Shackleford raced three times at Gulfstream last year, including an allowance victory, a fifth in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II), and a second-place finish in the Florida Derby (gr. I).