With one week before the $1 million Resorts Casino & Hotel Haskell Invitational (gr. I), trainer Kelly Breen had Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Ruler On Ice and Pegasus Stakes (gr. III) victor Pants On Fire on the Monmouth Park track July 24 for a final four-furlong work.
The drill in company came shortly after the fifth race July 24 for a four-furlong work between the races as a prep for the $1 million Resorts Casino & Hotel Haskell Invitational (gr. I) in one week.
“Fire” and “Ice,” both owned by George and Lori Hall, began their works at the half-mile pole with Pants On Fire on the rail and Ruler On Ice glued to his outside the whole time. The duo stepped the first quarter in :23 3/5 and hit the wire in :47 3/5. A photo revealed Pants On Fire a nose in front at the finish line.
“Absolutely perfect,” Breen said. “I wanted them to go just under :48. They’re both coming off wins and I just want to keep them sharp. They looked good coming back, both had lots of energy. They’ll gallop up to the race now. Just take it easy.”
Fire and Ice were welcomed back from their exercise by a thunderous applause from the crowd.
“We’re the hometown team,” Breen said. “It’s nice to have so many people rooting for them.”
Jockeys Elvis Trujillo (Pants On Fire) and Jose Valdivia Jr. (Ruler On Ice) seemed impressed by the drills.
“He went great,” Valdivia said of the the gelded son of 2005 Haskell winner Roman Ruler --Champagne Glow, by Saratoga Six. “Ready to rock and roll.”
Trujillo was equally as pleased with Pants On Fire's performance, “He went really well," he said of the colt by Jump Start out of the Cape Town mare Cabo de Noche. "Nice and easy. Looks like he’s ready to go.”
Ruler On Ice enters the July 31 Haskell off a victory in the Belmont Stakes June 11. Pants On Fire, who finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands after winning the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), will enter the 1 1/8-mile event off a victory in Monmouth's Pegasus Stakes June 18.
Others expected for the Haskell include Preakness (gr. I) winner Shackleford , Astrology , Coil , Concealed Identity, and J J's Lucky Train .
Shackleford, the likely favorite for the Haskell, sharpened up by breezing five furlongs over a fast track in a swift :58 3/5 seconds on a hot and humid morning at Churchill Downs July 24.