Trainer Todd Pletcher reported Sunday morning that Keen Ice came out of his first win in nearly two years fine, following his victory in the Grade 2, $750,000 Suburban at Belmont Park.
The 5-year-old son of Curlin earned a 106 Beyer Speed Figure in recording his first win since the 2015 Grade 1 Travers, running down 1-2 favorite Shaman Ghost in the stretch. The win was also one of five on Stars & Stripes Day for jockey Jose Ortiz.
“He ran well and seemed to come out of it great,” Pletcher said. “Even though the fractions were slow, I liked the fact that Jose didn't have to urge him on. He was putting himself into a striking position. He looked like he was traveling well throughout.”
Breaking from the rail, Keen Ice stayed off Matt King Coal's early fractions before closing late.
“He broke well and right away he was into it a little more,” Pletcher said. “It's a little counter intuitive that you'd think a closer would benefit from a slow pace, but it helped him and he was able to secure a good spot. For the mile and a quarter here at Belmont, I think drawing inside is always an edge.”
Owned by Donegal Racing and Calumet Farm, Keen Ice is likely to make a return trip to Saratoga Race Course for the 90th running of the Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney on August 5. Pletcher also said the long-term plan is to run in the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup on October 7 at Belmont.
“I haven't spoken to [the owners] yet but the Whitney would be the logical next target and we'd love to come back for the Jockey Club since he obviously likes the mile and a quarter. That would be Plan A.”
Battalion Runner finished third in the Grade 3 Dwyer on Saturday and came out of the race with no issues, Pletcher said.
“He seems fine; I think in retrospect I might have left him a little short with only four breezes and you could also argue the track wasn't playing well with speed yesterday,” he said. “He didn't get beat too badly and seemed to come back well.”
Patch and Coal Front also worked in company on Sunday. Coal Front, 2-for-2 in his career, is slated to run in the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam on July 29.
“Coal Front kind of got pretty aggressive with Johnny [Velazquez] down the backside and went off a little quicker than we would have liked, but despite that, they finished up pretty well and galloped out pretty well.”
Pletcher said Patch, who finished third last out in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes for Calumet Farm, still has options for his next race.
The first weekend at Saratoga will also feature the Pletcher contingent, with Stainless, a 2-year-old filly who won her unveiling on May 29 at Gulfstream Park, making her stakes debut in the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville on Opening Day,July 21.
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