Paco Lopez wins the G2 Gulfstream Park Sprint on Force Freeze
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Force Freeze answered the seven-furlong question and took the first step towards helping trainer Peter Walder erase the bitter memory of his near-miss in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint with an easy and very impressive 3 3/4-length victory over Troilus in Saturday’s $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship.
Force Freeze, making his first start since being beaten a neck by Eclipse Award winner Amazombie in the BC Sprint, got a perfect trip after breaking on the lead from his outside post in the Gulfstream Sprint Championship. Force Freeze rated kindly for jockey Pace Lopez while stalking the pace of long shot Amanecer de Oro, took command under confident handling approaching the stretch, edged clear, then easily withstood a gallant try from Troilus.
Force Freeze ($3.60) completed the distance in 1:20.71 over the fast track, just .26 of a second off the track record set by Hilda’s Passion here 11 months ago.
Troilus, who entered the GP Sprint riding a three-race winning streak, raced well placed between horses, took a run at the winner entering the stretch, proved no match but remained 1 1/4 lengths clear of Capt. Candyman Can to finish second in his stakes debut.
Simba’s Story, Decisive Moment, Amanecer de Oro, Dixie Slam, and Bold Warrior completed the order of finish.
“The race set up great,” said Walder who trains Force Freeze for owner Saeed Naser Al Romaithi. “He came out of there and Paco was standing straight up in the saddle and thank God somebody went and he sat. I told him when you do make your move do it decisively. Don’t hesitate, just put them away. You’re the heavyweight champ, just knock them out.”
Walder said winning this race was great, but there’s only one way to completely erase the memory of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup.
“It’s great to win this race here. The people at Gulfstream Park have been great to me over the years,” said Walder. “But the Breeders’ Cup is the Breeders’ Cup, and the only way to erase that is by winning it this year. This is the first step.”
Walder said Force Freeze will make his next start in the seven furlong, Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap on May 5, Kentucky Derby day.