A local legend at the Spa after his shocking defeat of Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in the Travers Stakes, Keen Ice had been struggling a bit since that victory last fall. His next start was the Breeders’ Cup Classic, where he finished fourth behind Pharoah, and was fourth again in Churchill’s G1 Clark Handicap. A short layoff saw him return in February to the G1 Donn Handicap, where he was sixth as the favorite. Trainer Dale Romans sent the 4-year-old son of Curlin to Dubai for a prep race for the Dubai World Cup in early March, in which he was seventh. In the World Cup itself, Keen Ice was eighth behind California Chrome.
Returning to the United States at the beginning of April, owner Donegal racing’s manager Jerry Crawford made the decision to move Keen Ice from Romans’ barn to that of Todd Pletcher, saying “anytime you have an athlete in a slump, it’s best to give that athlete a shot at a different system and see if that leads to a different result.”
Just a couple weeks later, Keen Ice was diagnosed with a hind cannon bone fracture that took him out of training completely for 60 days, rehabbing at WinStar Farm in Kentucky. The colt seems to have healed well, and has recorded three straight works at Saratoga since his return to Pletcher’s string.
Going out to the Oklahoma training track in company at 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning, Keen Ice worked alongside another horse through a half-mile breeze in :49.56, tying for the 7th fastest of 49 works at the distance on a foggy morning at Saratoga.
“It’s great to see him back,” said Donegal racing partner Ray Bryant, present for the work. “I’m really happy to have him back on the track hopefully for some races later this year.”
In terms of Keen Ice’s next proposed start, Bryant was cautiously optimistic, proposing that the colt could be ready for a start as early as September, but stating that the decision would ultimately be in the hands of Pletcher and Crawford.
“We’ll obviously try to hope for the Breeders’ Cup Classic or the Pegasus, if we’re lucky,” Bryant said with a smile.
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