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LEXINGTON, KY – Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s Mr Freeze proved too tough to pass as he held off a strong stretch effort from Aurelius Maximus to win Saturday’s $200,000 Hagyard Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.
Mr Freeze, sent from post 6 under Javier Castellano as the 8/5 favorite in the field of nine, stalked while running wide in the early going.
Up front, Mo Mosa posted opening fractions of :24.00 and :49.06, but Mr Freeze made his move heading into the far turn and took over quickly.
Pulling away from all but Aurelius Maximus in the stretch, Mr Freeze dug deep as his rival failed to catch him and eventually crossed a neck ahead.
The Dale Romans trainee completed the 1 1/8-mile fast dirt route in 1:50.71.
“I had a beautiful trip,” Castellano said. “I like the way everything unfolded in the right place for my horse. Usually, my horse goes to the lead, but they got the jump on us in the first turn. I was in really good position outside. Turning for home, I was very encouraged that he would get it done. He fought all the way to the wire and never let the other horse pass him. I am very proud of him.”
Aurelius Maximus was 3/4 of a length ahead of a closing Title Ready, who necked out Coastal Defense for fourth.
Captivating Moon, Rated R Superstar, Crafty Daddy, Mirinaque, and Mo Mosa completed the order of finish.
Tax was scratched.
Mr Freeze’s win was his first since February’s Gulfstream Park Mile Stakes (G2) and improved his overall record to 16-6-4-2. The 5-year-old son of To Honor and Serve, purchased for $75,000 as a yearling, has now earned $1,561,950.
“Today, he ran like his old self,” Romans said. “That was a rough trip for him. I wasn’t expecting him to be four-wide on both turns and stalking horses, but he showed what a good horse he really is.”
Mr Freeze returned $5.20 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.40 to show. Aurelius Maximus brought back $4.40 to place and $3.60 to show, while Title Ready paid $3.40 to show.
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