Mr Freeze gave his rivals the cold shoulder in Saturday’s $500,000 West Virginia Derby (G3), romping to an eight-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile test for three-year-olds at Mountaineer.
Sent to the lead by Robby Albarado, Mr Freeze set early splits of :24.02 and :47.88, and then came under stronger pressure from his Iowa Derby (G3) conqueror, High North, into the far turn. His lead was reduced to a head after six furlongs in 1:11.13
Staying several paths off the inside, Mr Freeze began to shrug off High North approaching the quarter pole and, with the rest of the field strung out far behind, Mr Freeze opened up in the stretch to register an emphatic win.
Owned by Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister, the Dale Romans-trained Mr Freeze paid $15.20 after covering the course in 1:47.95.
California invader Draft Pick was along to best High North for second by a half-length. The latter held third by a neck over Lionite. Farther back were 2-1 favorite Once On Whiskey, Rugbyman, Caloric, King Cause, and Pamir.
Mr Freeze increased his career earnings here to $434,400. He opened his account on April 20, scoring by 1 1/2 lengths in a Keeneland maiden at about seven furlongs, then captured a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Churchill Downs by a half-length. That was also the margin by which he lost to High North in the July 6 Iowa Derby (G3), settling for second.
By To Honor and Serve, Mr Freeze was produced by the Tabasco Cat mare Heavenly Cat, making him a half-brother to Grade 3 winners Dilemma and Heavenly Ransom as well as multiple stakes winner Capitano. His third dam was multiple Grade 1 winner Sabin.
Mr Freeze was bred in Kentucky by Siena Farms and was sold for $75,000 at Keeneland September.
Earlier in the card, the margin of victory was a much narrower neck for 11-10 favorite Leofric in the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s (G3).
Under Florent Geroux, Leofric dueled most of the way with Term of Art, re-claimed the lead in upper stretch and ultimately edged that rival in a time of 1:42.72 for 1 1/16 miles. Owned by Steve Landers and trained by Brad Cox, Leofric paid $4.20.
Term of Art had one length on Matrooh, who was followed by Imperative and 2017 race winner Hawaakom. There were four scratches from the field.
This was the first stakes win for Leofric, who previously ran third in the $73,000 Tenacious at Fair Grounds in December and second to Hawaakom in the Razorback H. (G3) at Oaklawn in February. The five-year-old by Candy Ride registered allowance wins following each of those two losses. His record now stands at 11-6-1-2, $457,940.
Bred in Kentucky by Peter Blum Thoroughbreds, Leofric was reared by Lady Godiva, an Unbridled’s Song half-sister to multiple Grade 3 winner Multiple Choice.