Nero was originally purchased for $950,000 as a yearling from The Saratoga Sale

Nero was originally purchased for $950,000 as a yearling from The Saratoga Sale

Fasig-Tipton Photos

Nero Looks to Conquer Field in Highland Ice

Pioneerof the Nile colt is trained by Steve Asmussen.

Making the trip west to try his luck in Oklahoma, Clark Brewster's 5-year-old Nero will look for the first stakes win of his career when he headlines the $50,000 Highland Ice Stakes April 7 at Will Rogers Downs

As one of the rare remaining stakes on the calendar in a year plagued by coronavirus-induced scheduling changes, Tuesday's six-furlong sprint has drawn a field of nine competitors. The race will be the fourth start of the season for the Steve Asmussen-trained Nero, who enters off a third-place finish in a March 29 allowance optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park

Bred in Kentucky by Thor-Bred Stables, Nero—a son of the late Pioneerof the Nile—last visited the winner's circle in March 2019 when he took an allowance optional claiming race at Santa Anita Park. The bay was a pricey yearling in 2016 when he was purchased for $950,000 by Stonestreet and M.V. Magnier from the Gainesway consignment to The Saratoga Sale, Fasig-Tipton's select yearling sale.

Nero has twice been graded stakes-placed in his career, running second in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) at 3 and third in the Triple Bend Stakes (G2) at 4. He was consigned by James Keogh as a racing prospect to last year's Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale where he was purchased by Brewster for $47,000. 

Nero will partner with jockey Lane Luzzi from post 5. 

Hoping to add a fourth stakes win—and the first outside of Turf Paradise—to his tally is Esteban Martinez's California-bred gelding Minister of Soul. Trained by his owner, the 6-year-old Ministers Wild Cat gelding has made two starts this season at Turf Paradise. He finished second in the Feb. 8 Phoenix Gold Cup Handicap over the Highland Ice distance and followed that effort with a Feb. 23 allowance optional claiming win.

Minister of Soul earned black-type honors at 5 when he won the 2019 renewal of the Phoenix Gold Cup Handicap. He also won the non-black-type Luke Kruytbosch Stakes at 4 and the Hank Mills Sr. Stakes at 5.

Minister of the Soul will partner with jockey Glenn Corbett from the rail. 

The only other Kentucky-bred in Tuesday's field is Ron Stolich's Grade One, a Midnight Lute  gelding trained by H. Ray Ashford Jr. The 5-year-old made his stakes debut Jan. 26 at Sam Houston Race Park where he finished fifth in the Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint Stakes. Ken Tohill will have the call from post 9. 

Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint fourth, Imma Bling, is also entered in Tuesday's sprint for trainer Karl Broberg and his End Zone Athletics ownership.

Bred in Texas by the Hall Family Trust, the 7-year-old Too Much Bling gelding will be making his 50th start in the Highland Ice. His best scores came in 2017 and 2018 when he won Bonapaw Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots followed by the the Spirit of Texas Stakes at Sam Houston. 

David Cabrera has the call on Imma Bling from post 8. 

Oil Money, Trumpence, Nova Notion, Collusionist, and Chatterman complete the field. 

Entries: Highland Ice S.

Will Rogers Downs, Tuesday, April 07, 2020, Race 9

  • STK
  • 6f
  • Dirt
  • $50,000
  • 3 yo's & up Colts and Geldings
  • 5:15 PM (local)
11Minister of Soul (CA)Glenn W. Corbett121Esteban Martinez3/1
22Oil Money (FL)Ty Kennedy121Robertino Diodoro12/1
33Trumpence (LA)Jose Angel Medina118Kenneth Nolen8/1
44Nova Notion (TX)Lindey Wade118Russell Brown30/1
55Nero (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateLane J. Luzzi121Steven M. Asmussen2/1
66Collusionist (CO)Adrian B. Ramos118O. A. Martinez, Jr.10/1
77Chatterman (CA)Ry Eikleberry118Kerri Raven15/1
88Imma Bling (TX)David Cabrera121Karl Broberg6/1
99Grade One (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateKen S. Tohill118H. Ray Ashford, Jr.5/1