ROMANS AND MR FREEZE WERE COOL IN THE ACK-ACK
There are times when it pays to play it cool and let things happen. That was exactly the right strategy for one Thoroughbred team as they found the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs on September 28.
The grade 3 Ack-Ack was what trainer Dale Romans considered a nice spot for one of his talented but lightly raced runners. Racing as a four-year old, Mr Freeze had only been to the starting gates seven previous times. With only two races in 2019, patience had been a key in the conditioning by the all-time leader in training wins at Churchill Downs. Understanding his horses has made the Louisville native what he is today, and Romans knew he just needed time to get this son of To Honor and Serve right. After finishing seventh at Gulfstream Park in his seasonal debut back in January, Freeze cooled out until mid-August where he finished second at Ellis Park in an allowance race. Moving forward off that race, team Freeze was ready to step back into Stakes company in a big way.
The Ack-Ack featured a balance field and the one-turn mile journey promised to be action-packed. Romans had high expectations for his grandson of Tabasco Cat and once the gates opened he was not disappointed. Breaking alertly under jockey Robby Albarado, Mr Freeze coolly moved just outside the leading tandem and rolled down the backstretch. Biding his time, at the top of the stretch, the fleet-footed colt conquered the front runners. In a chilling display, Freeze bolted to the lead and cruised through the final furlong to a length and a half win.
“I loved our position on the backstretch and I knew we were in a good spot,” says Albarado. “When we turned for home I knew I had plenty of horse underneath me. I asked him for more and he gave it. He went pretty quick (1:34.11) and proved he is a very nice horse.”
For Romans, chilling until the right time was about more than just waiting for the right race. Instructing his jockey to get him going early, the Coach’s game plan also included a relaxed ride that wasn’t too crazy early on. Knowing the capabilities of Mr Freeze, Romans just wanted to give his colt a real chance at his first win since August of 2018.
“We wanted to get out of the gates but didn’t necessarily need the lead,” says Romans. “Robby did a great job of that and knew we just wanted him to be in the clear and moving forward the entire race. He did everything we wanted him to do.”
The win was the fourth in eight career starts for Mr Freeze and raised his lifetime earnings to $542,710. This marked his second win in as many starts at Churchill Downs and gives the Freeze team plenty of reason for optimism.
“He ran great in the Ack-Ack which is what we expected,” says Romans. “We thought he was ready, but you never know until they run. He displayed the form that we know he has and right now I think the sky is the limit for him. We are going to enjoy this one for a little bit and then maybe think about the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.”