ELMONT, N.Y. -- For a fleeting moment near the top of the stretch of the 2015 Belmont Stakes, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin got excited about his chances to win. The feeling didn't last long, and Frosted became a footnote to history as American Pharoah completed the first Triple Crown in 37 years.
Fast forward a year, and at the top of the stretch of Saturday's Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, McLaughlin got excited again as Frosted was making a four-wide move to join the vanguard. This time, the moment will last a lifetime as Frosted, in an absolutely scintillating performance, galloped to a 14-1/4-length victory in the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.
The margin of victory is believed to be the largest in the 123-year history of the Met Mile. The previous record is believed to be held by Conquistador Cielo, who won this race in 1982 by 7-1/4 lengths. Frosted's final time of 1:32.73 -- if correct as posted -- is a stakes record, eclipsing the mark of 1:32.81 set by Honour and Glory in 1996.
"I thought we could win last year's Belmont, but it didn't work out. We ran into American Pharoah, so this is a huge performance here today," McLaughlin said. "Huge. Probably the biggest win I ever had for Godolphin for sure -- the way he did it and what it does for him going forward."
The Met Mile is considered a race that can boost a colt's stallion prospects. When you win this race in the manner in which Frosted did -- and you're a son of Tapit, as Frosted is -- it would appear that he has a bright future in his second career.
Frosted was making his first start in the U.S. since finishing seventh to American Pharoah in last fall's Breeders' Cup Classic. He spent the bulk of the winter in Dubai, winning the Maktoum Challenge Round Two by five lengths before finishing fifth to California Chrome in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
McLaughlin initially pointed Frosted to the Met Mile because he didn't want to wait four more weeks until the Grade 2 Suburban, a 1-1/4-mile race here July 9. The more McLaughlin thought about it, the more he felt this was a perfect spot.
"He's very versatile. He can do anything, we just need to give him a chance," McLaughlin said. "We thought this is a great spot, and often they go very fast early. There weren't any sprinters in there to go 44, but they went fast enough, and he wasn't that far back."
Eighth out of the gate, Frosted advanced into fifth early on down the backside as Noble Bird, Anchor Down, and Marking sparred on the lead through a half-mile in 45.35 seconds.
Around the turn, Frosted was still on the inside and edging closer to the leaders. Approaching the top of the stretch, jockey Joel Rosario tipped Frosted four wide, just outside of Anchor Down, who was beginning to put away the other speed horses.
In the blink of an eye, Frosted spurted away from the field, and he just glided home with Rosario barely moving on him. He returned $6.70 as the favorite.
"He was getting stronger and stronger. It was very easy for him," said Rosario, who was recording his third stakes victory on the card. "Before turning for home, I tipped him outside. I knew I had the horses in front of me, and I didn't even ask him to go yet. I sat a little bit, gave him a little more chance, and then when I did ask him, he just rolled."
McLaughlin credited his brother Neal, who had the horse in Dubai and at Saratoga since he returned, for having Frosted ready to run.
As part of the Win and You're In program, Frosted earned a fees-paid berth into the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in November at Santa Anita. Frosted could be pointed to the Breeders' Cup Classic instead, but those decisions can wait.
First, there's a Met Mile victory to savor for a while.