Godolphin’s Kiaran McLaughlin has high hopes for Frosted against American Pharoah at Belmont Stakes
Talent often comes with idiosyncrasy in thoroughbreds and Kiaran McLaughlin has derived great satisfaction at ironing out the little issues that lay between the ears of both Frosted and Tamarkuz these past few weeks.
The Godolphin trainer hopes that all of his hard work pays off on Saturday when Frosted bids to derail American Pharoah’s Triple Crown momentum in the Belmont Stakes in New York under Joel Rosario.
Tamarkuz attempts to tack on a fifth successive victory to the quartet he accumulated at Meydan this winter in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on the same card.
Frosted had to be almost reconstructed as a racehorse before his victory in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes in April.
McLaughlin had to give the Godolphin grey a soft palate operation, a change of tactics and blinkers.
After his victory at Aqueduct, the Darley homebred ran a huge race to finish fourth behind American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby and is considered the chief threat to Bob Baffert’s Derby and Preakness Stakes winner.
Tamarkuz, on the other hand, is a work in progress. The Godolphin Mile victor found it difficult to break well in Dubai and, since arriving at McLaughlin’s Belmont base on April 19, Tamarkuz has been schooled extensively in the starting stalls.
“He was naughty for the first few times, but the gate crew learnt him, and he learnt them. Now he walks right in and stands there great,” McLaughlin said from Belmont.
“The other day we popped him out the front because he didn’t break well on World Cup night but he was fine.
“The last two workouts he worked with Frosted and they went head-to-head, and he wanted to be in front and wanted to beat Frosted. I’ve watched his races in Dubai and he is very game and tough. It is nice to see that from a horse you have got. He is a big-hearted horse.
“It’s great because Frosted won a Grade 1 after we worked out his issues. We haven’t run Tamarkuz yet so we don’t know if we have fixed any of his. We hope he runs a crack race and can be a future stallion for Shadwell.”
Frosted was off the pace in the Kentucky Derby and had to endure a wide trip. There was no horse finishing stronger at Churchill Downs, though, and, after a five-week break, McLaughlin is hopeful of adding to the win achieved by Jazil for Shadwell in 2006.
Frosted is by Tapit, a sire who produced last year’s winner Tonalist, and out of a mare by Deputy Minister, who sired Awesome Again, the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner.
While Frosted’s breeding undoubtedly marks him as one of the more likely to get home over the stamina-sapping 2,400 metres on dirt, with the last nine winners of the Belmont skipping the Preakness, McLaughlin is hoping fatigue steps in to aid his charge.
“You are never sure about 12 furlongs over the dirt in America,” McLaughlin said. “The way he closed in the Derby he was the only horse running late, so that gives us confidence.
“One of the main factors is that the Triple Crown is very demanding on a three-year-old colt; to run three times in five weeks, over different distances and different courses. American Pharoah has been awesome, but this is his fourth race in eight weeks and we hope it catches up with him.
“We feel the timing is to our advantage. We need Frosted to have an A-plus race and American Pharaoh to have a B race. We like our chances.”
Frosted is one of two UAE-owned horses attempting to prevent American Pharoah becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
Mike De Kock is in New York to oversee the final preparations for Mubtaahij, the UAE Derby winner owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa.
Mubtaahij finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby and had a tough workload last week, which culminated in a 1,000m gallop on Saturday in one minute, 1.05 seconds, the seventh fastest at the distance on Belmont’s main track.
Mubtaahij is set to be ridden by Ortiz and will face only seven rivals after Todd Pletcher scratched Carpe Diem on Monday and Kenny McPeek withdrew The Truth Or Else.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE