Ice Box Avenges His Sire

Pulpit (TrueNicks,SRO) was one of the sensations of the early part of 1997, going undefeated through his first three starts at Gulfstream Park. In succession he took a seven furlong maiden by 7½ lengths, an allowance race by 6¼ lengths, and the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II). The triumphant progress was interrupted when, taken further off the pace than in his first three starts, he failed to catch Captain Bodgit (who he’d beaten in the Fountain of Youth) in the Florida Derby (gr. I). Racing much closer to the pace, Pulpit bounced back to winning form in the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), which he took by 3½ lengths. Dispatched as fourth choice for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) – for which Captain Bodgit started favorite – Pulpit dueled for the lead with the California Free House, but tired late to finish fourth as Silver Charm held off Captain Bodgit by head.
It subsequently transpired that Pulpit had suffered a career ending injury, and he was retired to stand at Claiborne Farm. As a son of A.P. Indy (TrueNicks,SRO), out of the grade one winning Mr. Prospector mare, Preach, and tracing to a sister to Round Table, it would have been a major surprise if Pulpit had failed to make an impact at stud. In fact, he’s proved to be highly successful, siring 46 stakes winners from the 581 foals in his first nine crops (8% stakes winners to foals), including the grade I winners Pyro, Rutherienne, Corinthian (TrueNicks,SRO) , Purge (TrueNicks,SRO) , Stroll (TrueNicks,SRO), Sky Mesa (TrueNicks,SRO) , Tapit (TrueNicks,SRO) and Mi Sueno. He’s also showing every sign of becoming an important sire of sires, with Tapit figuring as Leading Freshman Sire; Sky Mesa getting a pair of grade I winners and showing as second Leading Third Crop Sire last year; and even turf runner, Stroll, siring a pair of graded winners in his first crop, from distinctly limited opportunities.
At the weekend, Pulpit was represented by his ninth grade  I winner, Ice Box, and most appropriately, that colt his claim as a classic candidate in the Florida Derby (gr. I), the site of his sire’s first defeat. Ironically, Ice Box’s early career and running style demonstrate a pattern that is the complete opposite of Pulpit: where Pulpit was an overnight sensation, Ice Box has taken time to round into form, and where Pulpit almost always raced on or near the lead, Ice Box’s best effort have generally seen him produce a wide move from off the pace.
Bred by Denlea Park, Ltd. In Kentucky, Ice Box was purchased by his owner, Robert LaPenta, for $125,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sales. He was entered in the Fasig-Tipton Calder Two-Year-Old in Training Sale, but scratched after it became clear that he didn’t handle the surface there.
Ice Box ran four times at two, finishing off the board in a pair of maidens at Saratoga, and then fourth to Rule (who finished third as favorite in the Florida Derby (gr. I)) over a mile at Belmont, after racing much closer to the lead than usual. He concluded the season with his first win, scoring over a mile and 50 yards at the Meadowlands. Ice Box opened up the 2010 campaign with a ½ length victory over Pleasant Prince in a nine furlong Gulfstream Park allowance, then after making a promising middle move faded to fifth (with Pleasant Prince fourth) behind runaway winner Eskendereya in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II). A 20-1 shot for the Florida Derby, Ice Box raced at the rear of the field as Rule cut out quick fractions, but rallied five wide turning for home to run down Pleasant Prince – who appeared to have the race won when taking over from the tiring Ruler – in the last stride.
Ice Box’s dam, Spice Island was claimed by Denlea Park, Ltd. For $40,000 on her fourth start, a maiden at Monmouth which she won by 18½ lengths. The acquisition proved to be a inspired one – particularly when she switched to turf – as she went on to earn $487,376, capturing the Long Island Handicap (gr. II) and Rood and Riddle Dowager Stakes, and placing in five other stakes, including when second in the Sheepshead Bay Handicap (gr. II) and Glen Falls Handicap (gr. III), and third in the New York Handicap (gr. II). With her Long Island Handicap victory being achieved over 1½ miles, it is most unlikely that her son will fail at Churchill Downs for want of stamina.
Spice Island is a daughter of Tabasco Cat, one of the most accomplished sons of Storm Cat over a distance of ground, winning the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and taking second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I). Tabasco Cat started slowly at stud, and was exported to Japan, where he died relatively young. Typically, once he had left these shores, the crops he had left behind revealed him to be a more than useful sire, his best including the grade I winners Snow Ridge, Habibti and Island Sand, and other graded winners Cat’s At Home, Perfect Cat, Freefourinternet, Kazoo, Habaneros, Raylene and Host.
Tabasco Cat is just one element in a background that is filled with classic influences. The granddam, Crown of Sheba, was only a minor winner in England, but is by dual Classic winner, Alysheba, and is half-sister to Kentucky Derby winning Horse of the Year Spend a Buck, and to the dam of the Irish 1,000 Guineas (gr. I) victress Hula Angel. The third dam, Belle de Jour, is a Speak John half-sister to Battle Dress (by Jaipur), a half-sister to Songster (dam of the graded stakes winners Groshawk and Sea Songster). Battle Dress’s dam, Armorial, took second in the Spinaway Stakes and third in the Matron Stakes, and is half-sister to the the Acorn Stakes runner-up Teleran (dam of good runner and useful sire, Cornish Prince, and third dam of Strawberry Reason, who would subsequently produce Champion Two-Year-Old Vindication – by Pulpit’s grandsire, Seattle Slew – and graded winner Scipion – by A.P. Indy). Tellaris the sixth dam of Ice Box was bred in France, by Marcel Boussac, and represented the very best of his bloodlines, as she was by his undefeated Champion Pharis II, out of Donatella, a daughter of the great stallion, Tourbillon, and Prix de Diane-French Oaks victress Adargatis, herself a three-parts-sister to La Troienne. Avalyn Hunter has also commented on this female line in her Mahuba's Corner column.

Ice Box comes from a mating planned by Pedigree Consultants, in concert with Jamie LaMonica of Empire Thoroughbreds. There were a number of compelling reasons behind the decision to send Spice Island to Pulpit for the mating that resulted in Ice Box (who is TrueNicks rated A++). At the time, the cross of A.P. Indy and Storm Cat was beginning to show promise, the most notable example being Sky Mesa, by Pulpit out of a Storm Cat mare. Subsequently, Pulpit has reemphasized his affinity for the Storm Cat line and he now has four stakes winners from 25 starters out of mares by that stallion, Sky Mesa being joined as a graded winner by Parading and Mini Sermon. Pulpit has also sired grade one winners Ice Box and Mi Sueno from just 11 starters out of mares by sons of Storm Cat.
There are several interesting aspects to the mating, with a double of Secretariat, along with his half-brother Sir Gaylord, and Poker (broodmare sire of Seattle Slew), and Belle de Jour, who are Princequillo/Nasrullah crosses, the reverse of Secretariat. The mating also gives the genetic relatives Mr. Prospector and Alydar, and is linebreeding to A.P. Indy’s fourth dam, Missy Baba (whose son, Sauce Boat, is broodmare sire of Tabasco Cat). Finally, we can note that Seattle Slew is out of a mare inbred to La Troienne (the three-parts-sister to the ancestress of this family, Adargatis) through the sisters Striking and Busher, and that A.P. Indy carries a third line, through Busanda, dam of Buckpasser). If we look at the best recent runners from the family we note Spend a Buck (by Buckaroo, a Buckpasser son, linebred to La Troienne); Hula Dancer (by Woodman, whose dam is a Buckpasser mare inbred to La Troienne); and Vindication (a son of Seattle Slew).  

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