By Joe Bianca
Fresh off a pair of Grade I placings, Jim Bakke and Gerry Isbister's Mr Freeze (To Honor and Serve) will look for his third graded stakes score in an evenly matched 11-horse renewal of the GII Gulfstream Park Mile S. Saturday at the Hallandale Beach oval.
Capturing his first two starts at 9-1 two springs ago in Kentucky, the chestnut was a narrow second in the Iowa Derby before cruising by eight lengths in the GIII West Virginia Derby. Failing to find the mark in his next three outings, he annexed the GIII Ack Ack S. Sept. 28 at Churchill and was runner-up in the GII Hagyard Fayette S. in the Keeneland slop Oct. 26. Third after arguing the pace in the GI Clark S. back in Louisville Nov. 29, he dictated terms through the first six furlongs of the GI Pegasus World Cup Invtiational S. here Jan. 25 and dug in for second money behind runaway victor Mucho Gusto (Mucho Macho Man).
Something Special Racing's late-running Hog Creek Hustle (Overanalyze) tries to rediscover the winning thread and could benefit from a contested pace while stretching out to a mile after three straight six-furlong tries. Closing from 10th to get up at 18-1 in the GI Woody Stephens S. last June at Belmont, he was unlucky when second by a nose in the GI H. Allen Jerkens S. Aug. 24 at Saratoga before running fifth in the GII Phoenix S. and sixth in the GI Beeders' Cup Sprint. Making his 4-year-old debut in the Duncan F. Kenner S. Jan. 18 at Fair Grounds, he showed more speed than he ever had before, but was no match for loose leader and potential 2020 sprint division kingpin Bobby's Wicked One (Speightstown) while holding for the place.
Two otherf 4-year-olds from last year's Triple Crown trail rate chances from the two inside posts. Rail-drawn Bodexpress (Bodemeister), a 71-1 runner-up in the GI Xpressbet Florida Derby, came back from his GI Preakness S. mishap with a pair of Gulfstream West victories last fall before running third in the GIII Harlan's Holiday and fifth in the Pegasus, while Haikal (Daaher), victor of last March's GIII Gotham S., was a nose second in an Aqueduct optional claimer Jan. 5 in his first start since running third in the GII Wood Memorial S.
The top three finishers from the local GIII Fred W. Hooper S. Jan. 25 return, with winner Phat Man (Munnings) and defeated pacesetter Zenden (Fed Biz) looking slightly more likely than third finisher Rare Form (The Factor).