• G1 Met Mile, Whitney hero Frosted confirmed for BC Classic • Shaman Ghost stretches his legs for BC Classic, Prat to ride Effinex
ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin confirmed Thursday morning that Godolphin Racing's multiple Grade 1 winner Frosted will run in the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic on November 5 at Santa Anita Park.
"Jimmy Bell spoke to John Ferguson [of Godolphin], who has been in touch with Sheikh Mohammed, and they made the decision to run in the Classic," McLaughlin said by phone from Greentree Training Center near Saratoga Race Course. "I'm pleased that, between everybody, we're all in agreement."
With back-to-back Grade 1 victories in "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup qualifiers, taking the Metropolitan Handicap by a record 14 ¼ lengths on June 11 at Belmont Park and gutting out a two-length win in the Whitney on August 6 at Saratoga, the 4-year-old Tapit colt had been under consideration for either the 1 ¼-mile Classic or the $1 million Las Vegas Dirt Mile on November 4.
"What they asked me was, 'In what scenario would you prefer the [Dirt] Mile over the Classic?'" said McLaughlin, "and I said, 'There is no scenario.'
"There's no scenario where we would prefer the Mile," he continued. "It's two turns, which is a different race than the Met Mile at one turn. The [Classic's] distance is always in play and there's no bad post position in the Classic, so we're happy to run there."
Frosted, who will fly to Southern California on Sunday, turned in his final local work Wednesday morning over Greentree's Tapeta track, breezing six furlongs right-handed in 1:11.
"He worked fantastic yesterday and came out of it in great shape and we've got Joel Rosario to ride [in the Breeders' Cup]," said McLaughlin. "Everything is great except it's a tough race. Obviously, California Chrome is going in the Classic, but we've known that going in. Our horse is doing great, so we're going to have fun."
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Stronach Stables' Shaman Ghost wrapped up his local preparations for the Breeders' Cup Classic at trainer Jimmy Jerkens' Belmont Park base Thursday morning.
Hitting the training track shortly after the renovation break, the Grade 1 Woodward winner breezed seven furlongs under exercise Kelvin Pahal, covering the distance in 1:28.66.
"He went good," Jerkens reported. "He went in [1:]28, which was just what we wanted. He'll work again in California and he'll work pretty sharply once he gets out there."
The 4-year-old Ghostzapper has been working up to the Breeders' Cup after posting a head victory in the Woodward on September 3 at Saratoga Race Course and earn an all-fees-paid berth into the $6 million Classic on November 5 at Santa Anita Park.
Jerkens said that Shaman Ghost is scheduled to head to Southern California on Wednesday along with stablemate and fellow Classic hopeful Effinex.
Runner-up in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on October 8, Effinex is expected to breeze once at Belmont before boarding the flight to California, Jerkens said.
"I'm undecided about that guy, when he's working," he said. "He doesn't need a whole lot, he just ran. Since they're scheduled to leave on Wednesday, we'll probably do something on Sunday or Monday."
Although Jerkens indicated earlier in the morning that the riding assignment for Effinex in the Classic was still "up in the air," Dr. Russel Cohen, breeder of Effinex and manager of his family's racing stable, confirmed in the afternoon that Southern California-based jockey Flavien Prat will have the call in the Breeders' Cup.
Hall of Famer Mike Smith had been aboard Effinex for seven of the horse's last eight starts, including victories in the Grade 1 Clark last fall and the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap earlier this year, but has committed to ride Grade 1 Travers winner Arrogate in the Classic.
"[Flavien is] young and talented. He's a hot rider that's been winning with a lot of mounts right now," said Dr. Cohen. "I don't know him, but everybody has said he's a good kid and, most importantly, I think he'll get along with the horse. He's not heavy-handed and that's a big deal - this horse will not tolerate someone making him do something when he doesn't want to. He's not going to get along with an aggressive rider. This horse just needs a passenger. We're happy with it and we'll just hope for the best."
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As the 4-year-old half-sister to 2015 Eclipse Award champion female sprinter La Verdad, Lady Sheila Stable's Hot City Girl willlook to keep the family streak going when she steps into the starting gate Saturday at Belmont Park in the $150,000 Iroquois, a race her older sister won in 2014 and 2015, and part of the all-New York-bred Empire Showcase Day.
By City Zip, Hot City Girl was entered into the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom on October 1 but was scratched as she continued to recover from a foot abscess, said trainer Linda Rice, who also campaigned La Verdad to 11 stakes wins in her career. Hot City Girl will be making her first start since winning the Union Avenue on August 18 at Saratoga Race Course.
"When we had to skip the last one, we thought this would be a better spot and it is," she said. "We hadn't trained her as aggressively as we would have, dealing with the foot, but I think she stays pretty tight on her own and her last work was pretty strong, so we thought she'd be good for the New York-bred stakes. Plus, it would be really fun if we could knock it out three years in a row."
La Verdad, meanwhile, is doing well in her new career as a broodmare, Rice reported. Currently in foal for the first time to Medaglia d'Oro, the decorated New York-bred retired as a 6-year-old in early February, following a stellar 2015 campaign that included five stakes wins, including a rated 3 ¾-length victory in the Iroquois, as well as a game runner-up effort in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. In her only start of the year - and the last of her career - she captured the $100,000 Interborough by 2 ¾ lengths on January 9 at Aqueduct Racetrack, improving her career record to 16-3-0 in 25 starts.
"I think she'll have a February 1 foal," Rice said, "and we know she's having a filly, so we're excited."
Matt King Coal, also owned by Lady Sheila Stable, is getting closer to making his return, said Rice on Thursday.
The 3-year-old Cool Coal Man colt was sidelined this summer to recover from a hairline fracture to his pelvis. After breezing four furlongs in 50.21 seconds on the Belmont training track on Saturday, Matt King Coal is expected to work again in the next few days at Belmont when the weather is clear.
"His first work was great, he looks terrific," Rice said.
Modest Maven, the 2-year-old $1 million Fasig-Tipton March sales-topper, will not make her debut until at least the spring after suffering inflammation while training in Saratoga. She is currently at Belmont but will ship to Florida, where she is expected to resume training for 2017.
"We stopped and decided to give her a couple of months to grow up, and we'll pick her up in the spring," Rice said. "She'll train in Florida for a little bit. She's in New York now, but she'll go down to Ocala to train when she's ready."