By Lenny Shulman and Ron Mitchell
Ice Box , runner-up in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), drew post position 6 and was installed as the 3-1 morning favorite when a dozen horses were entered for the June 5, $1 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The 1 1/2-mile Belmont is the third leg of Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.
Trained by Nick Zito for owner Robert LaPenta, Ice Box is one of three Derby starters entered in the Belmont, which is minus Derby winner Super Saver and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Lookin At Lucky .
A 3-year-old son of Pulpit, who cost $125,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale, Ice Box has won three of eight lifetime starts and earned $906,534. His best effort to date was a nose triumph in the Florida Derby (gr. I) at 21-1 odds. He will be ridden in the Belmont by Jose Lezcano, who was aboard for both the Florida Derby win and the runner up Kentucky Derby effort.
Ice Box is one of two Nick Zito-trained horses entered in the Belmont, as the Hall of Famer also has Fly Down, the 9-2 third betting choice owned by Richard C. Pell. Ridden by Lezcano, Fly Down won the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) by six lengths May 8 to earn a trip to the Belmont. With Lezcano riding the Belmont favorite, Fly Down has the services of John Velazquez.
The 7-2 morning line second choice is Donald Dizney’s First Dude , who dueled with Lookin At Lucky before finishing second in the Preakness. Trained by Dale Romans, First Dude will break from post 11 under Ramon Dominguez.
"We’re fast enough to clear the field," Romans said of the draw near the outside. "I would much rather be here than down inside where somebody is going to come in on us (at the start). He’s a nice, big horse that wants to go 1 1/2 miles. He’s been here two weeks and he’s been getting over the track real well. He’s a throwback horse—big and rugged."
Ellen and Peter Johnson’s Make Music for Me , who finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, drew post position 4 under jockey Joel Rosario. Trainer Alexis Barba said she is hoping for a better running position for the Bernstein colt in the Belmont than he had in the Derby, when he was last of 20 horses early. "He was last early in the Derby, but we hope to be in the middle of the pack in the Belmont," said Barba, whose charge has finished second twice and third once to Lookin At Lucky in graded stakes during his career. "Our barometer has always been Lookin At lucky and although we didn’t beat him, he made his presence felt."
Steve Margolis, who trains 20-1 shot Stay Put for owners Richard, Bert, and Elaine Klein, said the Broken Vow colt showed his affinity for distance races when he won an optional claiming contest on the May 1 Kentucky Derby Day undercard at Churchill Downs. "He’s been slowly improving with each race," Margolis said of the colt who will break from post position 10 under jockey Jamie Theriot. "He’s a big-striding colt, and after we won the race on Derby Day we realized he will run all day. So we’re taking a shot here."
Another longshot whose connections say will like the longer distance of the Belmont is Spangled Star, a Distorted Humor colt installed as the 30-1 morning line outsider. "He’s bred for distance," said owner Lawrence Roman. "A lot of longshots have won the Belmont. He’s sound and, although we don’t expect him to win, we’re taking a chance. It’s the greatest race of the year."
Trained by Rick Dutrow, Spangled Star breaks from the 2 post and will have the services of jockey Garrett Gomez for the Belmont.
|$1 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I, Belmont Park, June 5), 3YO 1 ½ Miles (Dirt)|
|1.||Dave In Dixie||Calvin Borel||John Sadler||20-1|
|2.||Spangled Star||Garrett Gomez||Richard Dutrow, Jr.||30-1|
|3.||Uptowncharlybrown||Rajiv Maragh||Kiaran McLaughlin||10-1|
|4.||Make Music for Me||Joel Rosario||Alexis Barba||10-1|
|5.||Fly Down||John Velazquez||Nick Zito||9-2|
|6.||Ice Box||Jose Lezcano||Nick Zito||3-1|
|7.||Drosselmeyer||Mike Smith||Bill Mott||12-1|
|8.||Game On Dude||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||10-1|
|9.||Stately Victor||Alan Garcia||Mike Maker||15-1|
|10.||Stay Put||Jamie Theriot||Steve Margolis||20-1|
|11.||First Dude||Ramon Dominguez||Dale Romans||7-2|
|12.||Interactif||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||12-1|