ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Ron Moquett was confident in the chances of Frosted Ice when he made his debut against the heavily favored Bankit in a New York-bred maiden race for juveniles at Saratoga in July.
But Frosted Ice broke slowly, was last early, then raced a bit green in the stretch, finishing 9 3/4 lengths behind Bankit.
Frosted Ice came back three weeks later to win his maiden, and on Friday will get another shot at the speedy Bankit in the $150,000 Bertram F. Bongard Stakes going seven furlongs at Belmont Park.
“I knew [Bankit] could run, but I thought if we could get the jump on him we could outfinish him down the lane,” Moquett said, referring to Frosted Ice’s debut. “The way the track was playing, we didn’t get the trip we needed to be successful. Everything that could happen that day, happened that day.”
In his second start, Frosted Ice broke much better and ran more professionally when he rolled to 5 3/4-length victory in a six-furlong maiden race Aug. 17 at Saratoga.
“All that tells me is he was what we thought he was the first time we ran him, he just didn’t get to show it,” Moquett said. “I was more impressed with his gallop-out than his race.”
Friday, Frosted Ice will break from the outside post under Joel Rosario.
Bankit, trained by Steve Asmussen, has a win and two seconds in three starts. He finished second to Lexitonian in an open-company race June 27 at Belmont before rolling to his 6 3/4-length maiden victory. Most recently, he lost a nose decision to Dugout in the Funny Cide Stakes at Saratoga going 6 1/2 furlongs.
“He’s a nice horse that I think has run solid races,” Asmussen said. “Expect another solid race out of him. I think it’s a good spot for him. Respect for the field, but we like our chances.”
Bankit, who breaks from post 5 under Jose Ortiz, may have to deal with pace pressure from Just Right, who scored a 4 3/4-length front-running victory Aug. 27 at Saratoga. He is the only member of this field to have won at the Bongard distance of seven furlongs.
Prior to his maiden victory, Just Right finished second to Bustin to Be Loved on Aug. 6. Bustin to Be Loved came back to run third behind Dugout and Bankit in the Funny Cide after stumbling at the start, and he returns in the Bongard.
Trainer Gary Contessa said Bustin to Be Loved acted up in the gate before he stumbled in the Funny Cide.
“If he behaves himself I really feel strongly that he can win this race,” Contessa said. “He is a good horse. We’re looking for him to behave and hopefully not make himself stumble coming out of the gate.”
Debut winners Poppy’s Destiny and Bustin Hoffman as well as Dalliance and the maiden Risp complete the Bongard field.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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