Frost Free ices competition in Chick Lang Stakes

The Grade III, $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes on the Preakness undercard offered three-year-old sprint specialists a chance to display their abilities in the six-furlong dash over the muddy, sealed main track, and it proved to be a formful affair.

Heading into the latest renewal of the Chick Lang Stakes, named in honor of the late, general manager of Pimlico, Laurel and Bowie, the public’s attention appeared to be evenly divided between two runners – Frost Free, the tepid 9-5 favorite with Irad Ortiz, jr. aboard and Mr Skylight, who was making his stakes debut off a pair of recent victories for trainer Riley Mott and was well backed as the 5-2 second choice. 

Both would make their presence known, but their fortunes were told at the outset.

When the gates opened, Frost Free clearly broke best of all and gained command soon after the break while racing well out in the center of the track. Longshot Sweet Soddy J chased briefly before giving way. 

Mr Skylight, however, completely missed the break and was the distant trailer as the favorite led the way by the opener in 23.24 while continuing to race well off the rail.

Frost Free continued to show the way through the far turn while three and four wide as Cats by Five and Catahoula Moon both remained within striking distance while failing to make up any appreciable ground on the betting choice. 

Mr Skylight launched his bid while permitted to save ground through the far turn and passed several rivals easily. He would eventually close willingly late to finish third, but his poor start essentially sealed his fate and he would settle for minor spoils.

In the lane Frost Free responded to right-handed urging from Ortiz to finish on a straighter path nearing the wire and was 1 ½ lengths clear of runner-up Cats by Five while stopping the timer in 1:11.39 for the six panels. 

Frost Free and Cats by Five had finished second and third, respectively, in the $200,000 Bachelor Stakes at Oaklawn Park in late April.

“As he always does, he showed some speed early in the race,” Ortiz said of Frost Free, a sophomore son of Frosted trained by Brett Creighton for owner Keene Thoroughbreds. “I had never ridden him before, and I didn’t want to get in his way. I let him do his thing and be happy. I saw in the other race in the slop he didn’t run that well. I was a little concerned about that. I let him be happy, be free and he was there for me whenever I wanted.”

Frost Free
Frost Free controlled the action throughout to win the G3 Chick Lang. Photo by Allison Janezic.

The win was Creighton’s first graded stakes triumph. It was also Frost Free’s first stakes win and third win overall in eight career starts. 

“He’s matured and grown up,” Creighton said about Frost Free. “He’s improving with every race. He’s got speed. And the competition, we fit. I’ve been in the business a very long time. It means a lot [referring to his first graded stakes win]. I think I got my trainer’s license in 1984 maybe.”

Both trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Luis Saez were content with the performance of runner-up Cats by Five.

“He ran solid today,” Asmussen said. “I would rather it had been a fast track for him today. He hasn’t run well on an off track before, but he showed up and put in a good effort today.”

“It was a good trip,” Saez said. “I was right behind the winner and he was pretty tough. He kept going. He was just too tough. For a second, I thought we were going to get him. My horse never gave up.”