By Rob Fundter, aka Amateurcapper
ran the most compelling internal fractions of the Kentucky Derby prep season en
route to his 20-1 Florida Derby upset on March 20. What is the likelihood he can repeat that
effort on May 1 at Churchill Downs?
Considering multiple Kentucky Derby winning trainer Nick Zito is calling
the shots, very good!
In the Florida Derby, multiple
G.3 winner RULE was the 9-5 favorite.
The speedy colt was trying to stretch his brilliant speed out to 9
furlongs. Unbeknownst to nearly everyone
not named Corey Nakatani and Patrick Biancone, newly-blinkered PULSION rocketed
to the lead through an opening ¼ in :23.21.
RULE would press him just a head back through a nearly identical second
¼ mile in :23.25, virtually eliminating the winning chances of ordinary,
Lurking in last place was ICE
BOX, open lengths from next-to-last LENTENOR.
Visually, I was impressed that RULE hung on gamely for third,
considering ICE BOX and nose loser PLEASANT PRINCE plodding pace beneficiaries.
What amazed me from chart
dissection is that despite staying in last place, ICE BOX ran his second ¼ in
:22.75 recording the fastest internal fraction of any horse in the race! Indicating he's no ordinary, one-run closer ICE
BOX slowed down faster in each successive fraction than any other horse in the
race. His third ¼ was a
remarkable :24.00, a fourth ¼ in a :24.33 show of stamina, both fractions part
of an impressive final 5 furlongs in 1:00.93.
Contrast those raw pace figures with his Fountain of Youth splits, in
which he recorded the fastest internal ½ mile split (:47.29). His second ¼ was run in :23.50, third ¼ in
:23.79, fourth ¼ in :24.93 with a final 5 furlongs in 1:02.75. Clearly, this March foal is improving leaps
and bounds now that he's chronologically turned three years old.
ICE BOX doesn't look all that
different this year than SUMMER BIRD,
the 2009 champion three-year-old male, did last year coming into the Kentucky
Derby. SUMMER BIRD's final prep, a third
to PAPA CLEM and OLD FASHIONED in the then-G.2 Arkansas Derby, was eerily
similar to the subject colt's Florida Derby win:
In the Kentucky Derby, ICE
BOX will get ample pace to chase.
Currently AMERICAN LION, CONVEYANCE, DISCREETLY MINE, LINE OF DAVID,
RULE, SIDNEY'S CANDY, and SUPER SAVER all are top 20 earners who've led
virtually gate-to-wire in at least one prep at either age two or three. The already crowded front end in the Derby
can grow more contentious and speedy if Blue Grass runner-up and #19 earner
PADDY O'PRADO makes the race. The Dale
Romans trainee was part of the fastest fractions when compared with other Blue
Grass renewals after Keeneland switched to Polytrack. Likely Derby favorite ESKENDEREYA, owner of
the two top Beyer speed figures of 2010 sophomores, never races far from the
leader which will add to the intensity in the leading group and should enhance
the late run of ICE BOX.
By the productive A.P. INDY
stallion PULPIT, ICE BOX has stamina-rich blood from his TABASCO CAT broodmare
SPICE ISLAND. In appearance, his chestnut
coat would be inherited from damsire TABASCO CAT, winner of the Preakness and
Belmont Stakes in 1994. SPICE ISLAND captured
turf graded stakes on the grass at 1 3/8 miles and 1 ½ miles. Third dam BELLE DE JOUR, by 1987 Kentucky
Derby and Preakness S. winner ALYSHEBA, produced 1985 Kentucky Derby winner
SPEND A BUCK. Bottom line, ICE BOX
should adore every bit of the 1 ¼ mile Derby distance. Jockey Jose Lezcano can wait until the third
¼ mile to pick off the inevitable also-rans.
The momentum ICE BOX produces through the middle of the Derby will put
the colt into a winning position at the mile mark. The final ¼ mile always goes to the horse
with the best combination of racing luck and stamina.
Without a high-class juvenile
campaign, the same lack of experience that may have limited SUMMER BIRD in last
year's Derby, the question is whether ICE BOX has the bottom and class at this
stage of development to reproduce his Florida Derby win? The six weeks between races could be the
mini-freshening that SUMMER BIRD wasn't afforded (he had only three weeks from
final prep to Derby), allowing ICE BOX to recover from the taxing race at
Last year's version of ICE BOX
was SUMMER BIRD. After a 6th
place Derby finish, the "other Bird" became a champion. Whether ICE BOX can match or exceed that
colt's accomplishments remains to be seen.
One thing is certain, Nick Zito knows what he has in ICE BOX. Translation:
look out Derby field!
P.S. I've analyzed the charts of the Kentucky
Derby preps upside down and sideways. I
would enjoy any and all comments at my blog, which features a complete recap of the
Santa Anita Derby, a ESKENDEREYA / LOOKIN AT LUCKY dream Triple
Crown rivalry, and a pretty thorough run down of Pool 2
final odds in two parts (#1 and #2).
Also, check out the TBA homepage where you can digest as little or as much
horse racing information you can swallow.
Enjoy the final bit before the