After losing a couple of tough grade I races at the end of last season, Force Freeze served notice that he will be one of the top sprinters in 2012 with a dominating performance in the $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship (gr. II) (VIDEO) on Feb. 18.
The 7-year-old gelding notched the first graded stakes victory of his career when scoring by 3 3/4 lengths in a sparkling final time of 1:20.71 on the fast dirt. The time was just two-fifths of a second off the track record. And the ease in which the son of Forest Camp did it was equally as impressive, as he toyed with a pretty good field of sprinters. Paco Lopez guided the 4-5 favorite to the win.
Force Freeze is owned by Saeed Naser Al Romaithi and is trained by Peter Walder. He ended 2011 by finishing second by a half-length in the Oct. 1 Vosburgh Invitational (gr. I) at Belmont and missing by a neck in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
Dixiana Stables bred the winner, who is out of the It’s Freezing mare Antifreeze.
Force Freeze broke well from the outside post and received the perfect setup, as he followed closely behind pacesetter Amanecer de Oro
for a half mile. The opening fractions were quick--:22.18 and :44.18. But Force Freeze was well in hand when he rolled by the pacesetter on the turn, and opened up a commanding advantage at the top of the stretch.
, a winner of three straight races, was his closest pursuer, and grade I winner Capt. Candyman Can
was making his late run on the inside. But they never got close to Force Freeze, who coasted to the wire with the biggest win of his career.
Troilus and Elvis Trujillo settled for second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Capt. Candyman Can.
After beginning his career in the United States, Force Freeze spent all of 2009-2010, and the first part of 2011 racing in Dubai where he won three times. He was returned to the U.S. last summer and was placed in the barn of Walder, who promptly sent him out to a decisive four-length victory in the Teddy Drone Stakes at Monmouth on July 31. The narrow grade I defeats followed that.
“I had so much confidence in my horse. He’s just so fast," Lopez said. "I worked him a couple times and he worked unbelievable. I thought he would be able to go the extra distance. When I rode him at Monmouth last year he was so wide he ran much farther than six furlongs that day. He’s so fast out of the gate. I was able to get perfect position. He was going so easily and when I asked him he just ran even faster.”
This latest victory improved Force Freeze’s record to 8-4-3 from 22 career starts and upped his earnings to $853,719.
“It set up great. He came out of there and he was standing straight up in the saddle and thank God somebody went and he sat. They really picked it up; :44 and just off the track record," Walder said. "The Breeders’ Cup is the Breeders’ Cup. There’s only one way to erase that, and that’s by winning it. This is the first step."
Force Freeze paid $3.60, $2.60, and $2.20. The exacta (8-6) returned $15 and the trifecta (8-6-2) was worth $40.60.
Simba's Story finished fourth, followed by Decisive Moment, Amanecer de Oro, Dixie Slam, and Bold Warrior.