NEW CUMBERLAND, WV – Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s Mr Freeze iced out his competition on Saturday, romping home to a dominating 8-length score in the Grade 3, $500,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer.
Breaking alertly from the rail under Robby Albarado, Mr Freeze took command and led through opening splits of :24.02, :47.88, and 1:11.13 while High North kept close to his outside. Shaking off that foe at the top of the stretch, Mr Freeze was able to distance himself and drew off convincingly. The Dale Romans trainee hit the wire in a final time of 1:47.95 for the 1 1/8-mile main track event.
“My intentions were to leave (the gate) aggressively and he broke extremely well,” Albarado said. “He put me in the race within himself. I was able to control the race from the start. I wanted to be off the pace, but since he broke so well at the start, I had to call an audible. I didn’t want to squeeze the inside too hard, and I think that was the deciding factor. He’s a nice horse and he did the right things to win today.”
Draft Pick was driving hard through the far turn and was able to get up past High North by a 1/2-length for second. Lionite took fourth after rallying well through the far turn, missing third by just a neck. The 2-1 favorite Once On Whiskey flattened out in the far turn and took fifth over Rugbyman, with Caloric, King Cause, and Pamir completing the order of finish.
Mr Freeze’s win was his third in four career starts, with his lone loss coming last out when he finished second in last month’s $250,000 Iowa Derby behind High North. The 3-year-old son of To Honor and Serve didn’t make his debut until April 20, but he has already earned $434,400 and seems bound for bigger and better things.
“He never turned a hair in the paddock, and you could see he was all business,” said Jason Cook, who traveled to Mountaineer and saddled the colt for Romans. “He loves doing this and you can tell he’s so proud of himself. I took him to the Iowa Derby, and after that race, I could tell he has a lot of ability. He’s just going to get better.”
Mr Freeze returned $15.20 to win, $6.60 to place, and $4.20 to show. Draft Pick brought back $4.40 to place and $3 to show, while High North paid $3.80 to show.