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Roman Ruler Ices Belmont Stakes

A muddy renewal of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I, video below) always seemed to have the potential to deliver an upset, and so it proved, with the unheralded Ruler On Ice (TrueNicks B+) defeating Stay Thirsty and Brilliant Speed, with the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winners Animal Kingdom and Shackleford off the board (as an aside, when, if ever have the winners of the first two legs of the Triple Crown lined up for the Belmont, and neither hit the board?). Actually, the horses who were prominent in the Derby fared remarkably badly in the Belmont, with the first six at Churchill Downs – Animal Kingdom, Nehro, Mucho Macho Man, Shackleford, Master of Hounds, and Santiva not making the first three in New York, although Stay Thirsty and Brilliant Speed had finished further back in the first classic).

Ruler On Ice is a member of the second crop of Roman Ruler (TrueNicks,SRO), who established himself as the best U.S.-raced son of Fusaichi Pegasus (TrueNicks,SRO), with wins in the Norfolk Stakes (gr. II) and Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) at 2, and Dwyer Stakes (gr. II) and Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I) at 3. Roman Ruler has been represented by six stakes winners, and a total of 15 stakes horses, his best also including the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) winner Homeboykris; Rule, who took the Delta Jackpot Stakes (gr. III) and Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III); and the Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) second Connie and Michael.

Ruler On Ice’s dam, Champagne Glow, a daughter of Saratoga Six, was a precocious 2-year-old, winning the Schuylkill Stakes and finishing second in the Frizette Stakes (gr. I). She was rather less quick to make her mark as a broodmare, as she was 19 years old when she produced her first stakes winner, Champagne d’Oro, successful in the Acorn Stakes and Test Stakes (both gr. I), and 20 years old when Ruler On Ice was born. Out of the Boiling Springs Handicap (gr. III) victress Champagne Ginny (by L’Enjoleur), Champagne Glow is a half sister to three other stakes winners, including the ill-fated Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) and Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) winner Grand Canyon, and to Jurado, a group I-winning miler in Italy. It’s some what ironic – and a pointer to some of the vagaries of inheritance – that Champagne Glow should produce the sprinter/miler Champagne d’Oro to Medaglia d'Oro (TrueNicks,SRO), a horse who was only narrowly defeated in the Belmont Stakes, and yet also be represented by a Belmont winner by Roman Ruler, who one would generally expect to be more of a speed influence that Medaglia d’Oro.

Roman Ruler and his half brother El Corredor (TrueNicks,SRO) were among the first major stakes winners, and significant stallion prospects to carry inbreeding to Mr. Prospector (2x4 in Roman Ruler; 3x4 in El Corredor), the dam’s strain coming through their broodmare sire, Silver Deputy (out of a Mr. Prospector mare). At the time, Mr. Prospector/Raise a Native inbreeding was a somewhat touchy subject, but it has since become commonplace in good winners. Both El Corredor and Roman Ruler have proved able to handle additional Raise a Native and Mr. Prospector in their mares. At least eight of El Corredor’s 24 stakes winners have additional strains of Raise a Native, and five have a third cross of Mr. Prospector, among them, Wanna Runner, and earner of over $560,000. Another of his graded winners, Itty Bitty Pretty, is out of a mare by Raise a Cup, who is by Raise a Native out of Nashua mare, so bred on the same cross as Mr. Prospector. El Corredor, Roman Ruler, and Itty Bitty Pretty are all co-bred by Rob Whiteley’s Liberation Farm, as is Ruler On Ice, so it’s probably no coincidence that Ruler On Ice’s pedigree combines a stallion with a double of Mr. Prospector crossed over a mare by a son of Raise a Cup’s three-parts-brother, Alydar (who of course is also a close genetic relative to Mr. Prospector). There are well in excess of 200 stakes winners by stallions carrying Mr. Prospector out of mares carrying Alydar, more than 30 of them grade I winners, including such as Point Given (TrueNicks,SRO), Anees, Gio Ponti, Summer Bird (TrueNicks,SRO), Life At Ten, Ice Box, Corinthian (TrueNicks,SRO), and Twirling Candy. Stallions with a double of Mr. Prospector have sired at least six stakes winners out of mares carrying Alydar, including other grade I winners Tell A Kelly (by Tapit (TrueNicks,SRO)) and Lilacs and Lace (by Flower Alley (TrueNicks,SRO)). In addition to Ruler On Ice, Roman Ruler’s stakes winners include Roman Chestnut, who is out of a mare by Silver Deputy, and so has Silver Deputy 3x2 and Mr. Prospector 3x5x4.

Staying with Mr. Prospector inbreeding for a moment, It’s Tricky (TrueNicks B), who upset Turbulent Descent in the Acorn Stakes (gr. I, video below), has Mr. Prospector 3x4x4. In this case, Mr. P comes in as broodmare sire of Mineshaft (TrueNicks,SRO), the sire of It’s Tricky, and is also 3x3 in the pedigree of It’s Tricky’s dam, Catboat (by Tale of the Cat (TrueNicks,SRO)). Mineshaft has two stakes winners from 24 starters out of Storm Cat mares, but both horses – It’s Tricky and Dialed In – are 2011 grade I winners.

Animal Kingdom lost all chance of further classic glory in the first strides of the Belmont, but there was compensation for his sire, Leroidesanimaux, when another member of his second crop, Sarah’s Secret, maintained her undefeated record with a win in the Honeymoon Handicap (gr. II). Sarah’s Secret is out of the Luhuk (by Forty Niner) mare Sarasota, a multiple graded stakes winner in her native Argentina. The second dam is by More Than Ready (TrueNicks,SRO)’s sire Southern Halo.

Two of the excellent sire crop that were freshman of 2008 (last year’s third crop sires), Leroidesanimaux’s one-time stud-companion Medaglia d’Oro, and Tapit also had good winners on the Belmont Stakes undercard. Medaglia d’Oro sired his sixth grade I winner from his first three crops when C S Silk (TrueNicks A++) took the Just A Game Stakes (gr. I). She’s out of a mare by the Buckpasser stallion Settlement Day. In the True North Handicap (gr. II), Trappe Shot (TrueNicks A+), from the second crop of Tapit, became the thirteenth graded winner for the sire, with an 8½ lengths score. Out of Shopping, a daughter of Private Account (so a similar cross to last year’s sprint star Discreetly Mine (TrueNicks,SRO)), Trappe Shot is a half brother to three other stakes winners, including grade I scorer Miss Shop. This is a branch of the great Phipps family of Lady Be Good. Another impressive sprint winner on the day was Justin Phillip (TrueNicks A++) in the Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II). The half brother to the very rapid Keyed Entry (TrueNicks) is from the first crop of First Samurai (TrueNicks,SRO) (by Giant's Causeway (TrueNicks,SRO)). His dam is the Cryptoclearance mare Avaknowsthecode, and Fusaichi Samurai now has two graded winners from two starters out of Cryptoclearance mares (gives Fappiano 4x3). Justin Phillip has a 2-year-old half brother by Bernardini (TrueNicks,SRO) (and also inbred to Fappiano) called Algorithms, who is a winner of his only start to date and might be one to keep an eye on.

On the West Coast, Bob Baffert has a potential good “second season” 3-year-old in Coil (TrueNicks A++), who took his record to three wins in four starts by capturing the Affirmed Handicap (gr. III, video below) on his seasonal debut. Coil was apparently under consideration for the Woody Stephens, but he shouldn’t have much trouble carrying his speed a distance of ground, as he’s by Point Given (TrueNicks,SRO) out of a Theatrical mare. This is the first stakes winner for Point Given on the cross, but his sire, Thunder Gulch (TrueNicks,SRO), has three stakes winners out of mares by Theatrical.

One of the first good 2-year-old filly races, the Cinderella Stakes, went to Killer Graces (TrueNicks B+), a daughter of Congaree (TrueNicks,SRO) (who now has nine stakes winners in his first four crops, and looks at least a useful breed-to-race sire in for New York, where he now stands) out of a mare by Old Trieste. The following day, the Willard L. Proctor Stakes Memorial Stakes, also at Hollywood Park but for colts, fell to Majestic City (TrueNicks A++). Majestic City is one of three stakes winners from seven starters by City Zip (TrueNicks,SRO) out of mares by Meadowlake. From a point of view of breeding like to like, one has to wonder how a son of the diminutive Carson City is doing so well with mares by the about 17-hand Meadowlake. Still on the West Coast, and for juvenile fillies, the Lost in the Fog Stakes at Golden Gate went to City Route (TrueNicks A). She is by Globalize (a son of Summer Squall) out of a mare by Mud Route (by Strawberry Road), and so is a variation of the Storm Bird/Nijinsky II combination.

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