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Anne M. Eberhardt

Ice Box Fires :46 2/5 Half-Mile Bullet

Florida Derby (gr. I) winner heats things up over the slop at Churchill Downs.

Robert LaPenta’s Ice Box  broke out the heat April 23, firing a bullet :46 2/5 workout for a half-mile over a sloppy main track at Churchill Downs.

Working in company with Morning Line , Ice Box started out even with his workmate and finished up four lengths in front. His timed splits for the drill were :11 3/5, :22 4/5, and :34 4/5. He galloped out five furongs in :59 3/5.

It was the fastest half-mile of 27 workers on the morning under the Twin Spires.

Ice Box, trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito, prepares for the May 1 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) as the winner of the Florida Derby (gr. I). Coming from last, Ice Box rallied under Jose Lezcano to nip Pleasant Prince by a nose as a 20-1 outsider.

Morning Line is a 3-year-old son of Tiznow  who finished fourth in a maiden race at Aqueduct last November in his only start.

"Morning Line is a good horse and that's why I keep them working together," Zito said. He noted Megan Smiley was aboard Ice Box and Stacy Friar rode Morning Line.

"He looked good," Zito said of Ice Box. "Jackson Bend worked good yesterday, so everything looks good for the week."

Weather and rain is a major factor over the weekend regarding horses being worked in preparation for the Derby. Reports note that as much as 2-3 inches of rain may fall in the Louisville area in the next 48 hours.

"They sealed the track," Zito noted of not only Ice Box' quick time, but others on the work tab. "They got some rain here; they definitely needed some rain on the track. It opened up around 10 after 7 (a.m.). So during the break, they sealed the track instead of harrowing it out. That tightened it up."

Ice Box and Morning Line went out after the renovation break at 8:30.

Zito has a pair of Derby wins under his belt, having won with Strike the Gold in 1991 and Go for Gin in 1994. Both colts also prepped for the Kentucky Derby in the Florida Derby.

Ice Box sports a 3-0-0 slate from seven starts. He has earned $506,534.

Bred in Kentucky by Kurt Butenhoff’s Denlea Park, Ice Box is by Pulpit out of grade II winner Spice Island (by Tabasco Cat). LaPenta purchased him (through his Whitehorse Stables) for $125,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale from the Claiborne Farm consignment.