Earle I. Mack’s Freitag unleashed an impressive turn of foot to get up in the final stride and win Saturday’s $125,400 Sir Barton Stakes, at Woodbine.
Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Mark Frostad, the 17.1 hands tall Giant Gizmo chestnut was next to last as the field turned for home but made up ground with giant strides to overtake pacesetter Nevaeh’s Valentine and outfinish the rallying Maxsmiraclejourney.
Freitag, with the 1/2-length score under Alan Garcia, marked a track record of 1:42.16 for 1 1/16-miles eclipsing True Metropolitan’s 1:42.22 set Nov. 17, 2007 in the Grade 3 Autumn Stakes.
“With this horse you have to keep him clear. He has a big stride and I was waiting in the turn to let him go,” said Garcia. “It doesn’t matter if we go wide because he has a big, long stride. It worked out good. What can I say; I had the best horse in the race today.”
Nevaeh’s Valentine set swift splits of :24.14 and :48.09 in the Sir Barton under pressure from Where’s the Widget who brought a six-race win streak into the Tapeta route. Nevaeh’s Valentine took a precarious lead through the final turn with Keen Gizmo leading a charge that included Maxsmiraclejourney but there was no stopping the late-running Freitag. Maxsmiraclejourney earned place by a head over Nevaeh’s Valentine.
“I’m so sad that ‘Gator’ wasn’t here for the picture,” quipped Garcia, referring to barn mascot @GatorKitten who has garnered much attention on social media throughout the 2016 meet.
Freitag kept good company through seven previous starts in 2016 finishing second in both the Elgin Stakes and Grade 3 Durham Cup. He arrived at the Sir Barton from a third-place run in the Grade 2 Autumn Stakes, defeated less than four lengths by champion older horse Are You Kidding Me.
“He’s been a wonderful horse. He’s been taking on the big boys all year and he finally got a stakes win which is great. He deserves it and he’s a very nice horse,” said Frostad. “It’s taken him awhile to grow into that 17 hand frame and I think next year he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”
Freitag, bred in Ontario by Clayborn Farm, banked $75,000 in victory while improving his record to 6-10-5 from 26 starts.
He paid $5.80, $3.60 and $2.90, combining with Maxsmiraclejourney ($14.60, $7.60) for a $104.30 (3-8) exacta. A 3-8-10 trifecta (Nevaeh’s Valentine, $3.70 to show) was worth $717.10 while a $1 Superfecta [3-8-10-7 (Keen Gizmo)] came back $2170.65. Cito was scratched.