Comandante has made rapid improvement since joining Hall Of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
The son of Yarradale Stud shuttler Frost Giant had won an Aqueduct maiden in 11 starts before owner Kirk Wycoff transferred him to Pletcher in September.
Comandante (3g Frost Giant – Slew Motion by Slew Gin Fizz) responded to the change of stables by claiming a 1600m Aqueduct allowance on November 3 and then graduating to a Listed victory in the $125,000 Thunder Rumble Stakes (1400m) at Aqueduct on Saturday.
Under Javier Castellano, Comandante broke alertly and stalked the leaders before taking command in the straight. He held off fellow Frost Giant stakes winner West Hills Giant to score over a length. They gapped third home Anaphylaxis (Tomorrows Cat) by more than four lengths.
“I thought he ran well,” said Pletcher. “Cutting back from a mile was probably a good thing for him. It worked out really well.”
Pletcher has rectified Comandante’s bad barrier manners that contributed to several poor performances earlier this year. He also thanked Castellano who is a cool customer in the gates.
“I’ve ridden this horse three times now and he keeps getting better,” Castellano said. “The first time, he got beat. The second time, I learned a little more about him. This time he gave me a more powerful kick. I just showed him the whip, and he took off.”
Comandante’s dam Slew Motion was a Listed winner of the Dancin Renee Stakes at Belmont. He cost $35,000 buy at the Ocala 2YO Sale in April 2012 and has now earned over $210,500 for Wycoff’s Three Diamonds Farm.
Frost Giant (USA) was Champion New York freshman sire in 2012 and is racing away with the second-season title. His current crop of three year-olds includes the stakes winners West Hills Giant, Frosty Bay, Kelli Got Frosty, Comandante and G3 placed winner Giant Finish who ran in the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
And in the last week, he has sired the emerging allowance winners What The Frost (ex Liege by Theatrical) and First Frost (ex Novice by Elusive Quality).
The success of Frost Giant’s first two crops has been reflected in a fee increase to $10,000 at Keane Stud in 2014. It’s also been the catalyst for his younger brother Heavy Breathing to join the stallion roster at Dutchess View Farm in New York next year.
Another Todd Pletcher trainee, Heavy Breathing won his first two starts at Gulfstream Park and was then G3 placed in the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.
Frost Giant (Giant’s Causeway) is currently covering his first southern book at Yarradale Stud for a $9,900 (inc gst) fee.
– Karl Patterson
Frost Giant gelding wins the LR Thunder Rumble Stakes in New York