GULFSTREAM PARK SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP | PURSE: $150,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 7 FURLONGS
At the ripe age of seven, Saeed Naser Al Romaithi's Force Freeze now has a graded stakes win. The Forest Camp gelding, who ran a close second in both the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint and Grade 1 Vosburgh last fall, came through his 2012 debut with flying colors by taking Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship in emphatic style.
Pressing Amanecer de Oro from second through splits of :22 and :44, Force Freeze took over from that rival turning for home and drew to win by 3 3/4 lengths under Paco Lopez as the 4-5 favorite. He completed seven furlongs over a fast track in 1:20 3/5, one-fifth off the track record, and paid $3.60, $2.60 and $2.20.
Troilus, a 6-1 chance making his stakes debut off three straight overnight wins, rallied from fourth to be second best by 1 1/4 lengths over Grade 1 veteran Capt. Candyman Can. That 3-1 second choice had 1 3/4 lengths on Simba's Story, who crossed the wire ahead of Decisive Moment, Amanecer de Oro, Dixie Slam and Bold Warrior.
Force Freeze debuted at three, winning three of five starts while placing in the Grade 3 Hirsch Jacobs at Pimlico and the Bachelor at Oaklawn Park. Force Freeze spent the next three winters competing in Dubai, at the now-defunct Nad al Sheba and then at Meydan and Jebal Ali. A multiple winner in handicaps, his best finishes against stakes company were a second in the Jebal Ali Sprint and a third in the Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal, both in 2011.
Returned to the United States last spring, Force Freeze moved to the barn of Peter Walder. In his first race back, in the July 31 Teddy Drone at Monmouth Park, Force Freeze was sent away at 16-1 and scorched his opposition by four lengths while completing six furlongs in 1:07 3/5. He next contested the Vosburgh over a muddy Belmont Park strip, and finished a half-length behind Giant Ryan. Last time, in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs, Force Freeze gamely battled down the stretch with Amazombie, who ultimately prevailed by a neck. Force Freeze now boasts a line of 22-8-4-3, $853,760.
"I've been coming here a long time and it means a lot to win a race here at Gulfstream Park, but the Breeders' Cup is the Breeders' Cup," Walder said. "There's only one way to erase that and that's by winning it (at Santa Anita in November).
"This is the first step. I told (Lopez) when you make your move -- if you end up getting the stalking trip we want, when you make you're move, don't hesitate. Just put them away. You're the heavyweight champ and just knock them out."
Walder said Force Freeze would next target the Grade 2 Churchill Downs on May 5.
Bred in Kentucky by Dixiana Stables, Force Freeze was produced by the stakes-winning Antifreeze, who also reared his stakes-winning half-brother Barber. Force Freeze descends from Fifinella, who in 1916 captured both the Derby and Oaks in England.