Frost Damage Blues returns to Yonkers
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Stakes mare Frost Damage Blues is set to make her return to Yonkers Raceway in Friday (July 7) night's $55,000 Filly and Mare Open Handicap. Her first local try since finishing fourth in the distaff feature in her 2016 finale Dec. 9 comes after an eventful trip to Mohawk Racetrack for the Roses Are Red Stakes.
After a sharp qualifier in early May and a victory and runner up performance in winners over features at Harrah's Philadelphia and Pocono Downs, trainer Tom Fanning shipped Frost Damage Blues to Canada with intentions of racing her on North America Cup night.
In her Roses Are Red elimination June 10, Frost Damage Blues raced second last early, but followed longshot Bernadette second-over into contention up the backstretch. Driver James MacDonald angled wide into the lane and with a flurry of whip-taps and a succession of shouts to his mount, Frost Damage Blues struck the lead inside the final furlong. With the race won, she cruised under the line 1 1/4 lengths clear. She stopped the clock in 1:50.1.
"She was good there," Fanning said. "She got into contention without really having to be used much. In the stretch, when he tipped her out, she really responded."
Despite her impressive elimination win, Frost Damage Blues could finish no better than eighth in the final one week later. Forced three-wide up the backstretch and around the final turn, Frost Damage Blues drew within 4 3/4 lengths of the lead turning for home. Leg weary in the stretch, her strides shortened and her driver acknowledged by tucking the whip late. She finished 9 1/2 lengths behind winner Lady Shadow.
"In the final, she ended up fourth over. There was some confusion in the race at the half mile pole and that cost anyone in the back half of the field the chance to do well. That was just unfortunate," Fanning reflected.
Despite her bad racing luck, Frost Damage Blues emerged well from her Canadian exhibition. The lightly raced 5-year-old, who is 14-for-29 and has $183,603 in the bank, only lacked a suitable place to race once back in the States.
"You're always a little bit worried when they go up to Canada and stay there for a few weeks. They always seem to get sick. But, so far, so good," Fanning said. "She's been training steady and I would have preferred to race her last week, but the race didn't fill at the Meadowlands or at Pocono. If I could race her a little bit more, it might benefit her."
Although Fanning concedes the half-mile oval at Yonkers may not be Frost Damage Blues' favorite track size, the consistency with which the Filly and Mare Open is carded was appealing and the purse money available sealed the deal.
"The race goes every week, it's great money. You'd have to be crazy not to give it a shot," the trainer reasoned.
Although Frost Damage Blues may prefer a big track, she has no shortage of half-mile track experience. She won her first five races at Saratoga and Yonkers in 2015 and captured a $14,000 overnight at Yonkers last fall before finishing off the board in a pair of local distaff opens to conclude her 2016 season.
"She was winning on a half at Saratoga and at Yonkers, but she really wasn't at her smoothest" Fanning remembered. "Now, I think she's gotten over that. She raced very well at Chester, which has pretty tight turns. I wouldn't be anticipating any problems."
This week's Filly and Mare Open Pace featured a rare open draw, won by Frost Damage Blues, who will start against the pylons as a 7/2 morning line chance. Regil Elektra enters Friday's race off consecutive wins while down in class. She was installed as the 2-1 favorite. The field also includes Betabcool N, Mach It A Par, Lispatty, Cousin Mary, I Said Diamonds, and Sell A Bit N.
Although Frost Damage Blues tends to race from off the pace, drawing the inside may motivate her connections to be more aggressive. In a return to tactics employed early in her career, driver Brian Sears could ask her to show speed Friday night.
"She can leave. She won her first six starts on the front end, so she can do whatever you want," Fanning explained. "You have the rail at Yonkers, you have to take advantage of it. I think she fits pretty good. I would expect her to be very competitive."
First post time Friday at Yonkers is 7:10 p.m. For entries for Friday's card, click here.--By Brandon Valvo/SOA New York