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Belmont Winner Ruler On Ice Set for Clark 'Cap, Works Half-Mile

| Churchill Downs Communications | 11/18/2011 #
  • Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice will run in the Grade I Clark Handicap. (Adam Coglianese/NYRA)

  • Gleam of Hope rallied to the win the 2010 Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs. (Reed Palmer, CD)

  • Steve Asmussen is on the verge of becoming just the fifth trainer with 6,000 career wins. (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

RULER ON ICE BREEZES HALF-MILE IN PREP FOR CLARK HANDICAP Ruler On Ice, winner of the Belmont Stakes (Grade I), has joined the roster of horses that will compete in the 137th running of the $500,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) on Friday, Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs.

Ruler On Ice breezed five furlongs on Friday in :48.60 for trainer Kelly Breen  over a fast main track at Churchill Downs.  It was his first breeze since the Classic and his only major training move prior to the Clark.

Starting two lengths behind stablemate Nacho Friend and finishing even with his workmate at the wire, the Kelly Breen-trained Ruler On Ice recorded fractions of :24.60 and :36.60 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:02. The four-furlong time was the 12th fastest of 47 at the distance.

“It was excellent,” Breen said. “It was a textbook work and he seems to really like this track.”

George and Lori Hall’s will be entered in the Clark off a third-place finish behind Drosselmeyer and Game On Dude in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. It was the first start against older horses for the 3-year-old son of Roman Ruler.

“I’m very happy to report that he came out of the race in good order and he’s currently in great shape,” Breen said. “He’s eating well and training well. He’s a lean, mean fighting machine.”

Breen said Ruler On Ice came out of his Classic run in great condition, and the gelding's well-being and the uncertain nature of this year’s Eclipse Awards races were the major factors in the decision to run in the Clark.

“We’re thinking that if he wins this race then he is in the running for champion 3-year-old,” Breen said. “That would give us two Grade I wins and he would be beating older horses (in the Clark).”

Other horses working at Churchill Downs on Friday morning included Clark Handicap candidates General Quarters and Equestrio.

Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters, a multiple Grade I-winner with over $1.2 million in earnings, breezed five furlongs on the main track in 1:01.80.  He covered the distance in fractional splits of :12.60, :25, :37.20 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.40.  The work was the 11th fastest of 41 at the distance.

Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable’s Equestrio, third by a head to First Dude in the Alysheba (GIII) on Kentucky Oaks Day, breezed a “bullet” four furlongs in :47 for trainer Nick Zito. A 4-year-old son of Elusive Quality, Equestrio recorded fractions of :12.20 and :24 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.60.

STIDHAM HOPES GLEAM OF HOPE MAINTAINS FOCUS IN RIVER CITY Gleam of Hope hasn’t been the most consistent or focused horse since he joined Mike Stidham’s barn earlier this year, but the 53-year-old trainer hopes that will change in Saturday’s 34th running of the $100,000-added River City Handicap (GIII) at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course.

“He came under our care this summer and we gelded him shortly after his win in the allowance at Arlington Park,” Stidham said. “He ran well as a first-time gelding (a runner-up finish to Princeville Condo in the Robert F. Carey Memorial at Hawthorne) and we’re hoping that gelding him will keep him focused and make him a more consistent horse.”

Gleam of Hope, a 4-year-old son of City Zip who won last year’s Jefferson Cup (GIII) at Churchill Downs, will break from post three under jockey Corey Lanerie as he returns to familiar surroundings at the Louisville track.

“I looked at the race and it is a very competitive field,” Stidham said. “There doesn’t appear to be any standouts.”

Since his runner-up effort in the Robert F. Carey Memorial, Gleam of Hope has worked twice over the Polytrack at Keeneland. In his most recent work on Nov. 12, he went five furlongs handily in :59, which was the fastest work of 30 at the distance.

“Both of his works since his last race have been very good,” Stidham said. “I know our horse is doing well and training well and I think he has a good shot.”

The River City is the ninth of 10 races on Saturday with a scheduled post time of 4:37 p.m. EST.

ASMUSSEN EYES 6,000TH WIN ON 46TH BIRTHDAY – Trainer Steve Asmussen has the chance to give himself a rare birthday present on Friday: a 6,000th career training victory.

Asmussen, who turns 46 on Friday, recorded his first victory at age 20 at New Mexico’s Ruidoso Downs.  He entered Friday’s racing with 5,998 career wins and had 10 horses entered throughout the day at two racetracks: Churchill Downs and Remington Park. Below is a chronological listing of the 10 horses entered for Asmussen on Friday. All times listed are Eastern.

  • Churchill Downs, Race 1, 4:30 p.m., #3 Banded (5-2 morning line)
  • Churchill Downs, Race 3, 5:27 p.m., #3 Grinning Gang (3-1)
  • Churchill Downs, Race 6, 7:00 p.m., #2 Beer Garden (5-1) and #9 Quiet Command (12-1)
  • Remington Park, Race 1, 7:30 p.m., #1 Lucky Gold Coin (8-1) and #9 Basalt (10-1)
  • Remington Park, Race 4, 8:54 p.m., #13 La Belle Bear (also-eligible, 7-2)
  • Remington Park, Race 5, 9:22 p.m., #4 Letsgetitonmon (7-2)
  • Remington Park, Race 8, 10:46 p.m., #3 Pleasantly Blessed (6-5) and #6 Acanella (5-1)

Asmussen, who has won 10 leading-trainer titles at Churchill Downs and is currently second in the trainer standings behind Mike Maker with nine wins at the Fall Meet, would be just the fifth trainer to reach the 6,000 victory milestone. A two-time Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Trainer, he recorded his 5,000th victory with Passion Rules at Woodbine on Sept. 11, 2009.

BARN TALK Preston Stables LLC’s Clark Handicap-hopeful Flat Out is scheduled to breeze at Churchill Downs between 6-7 a.m. Saturday morning for trainer Scooter Dickey. Greta Kuntzweiler will be in the irons for the work, but Alex Solis will have the mount in the Clark. …

Summer Tremor, a half-sister to 2005 2-year-old champion colt Stevie Wonderboy, will make her second start in Saturday’s fifth race at Churchill Downs. Trained by Rusty Arnold, Summer Tremor is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the field of 10. …

It is “Pony Up for Charity” weekend beneath the Twin Spires. Patrons attending Churchill Downs during the weekend’s races will have the opportunity at all food and beverage points of sale to add $1 or more to their tab to benefit the day’s designated charitable organization. Proceeds from Friday will be donated to the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, Saturday’s proceeds will be donated to The Lord’s Kitchen and Sunday’s donations will benefit Horses and Hope.  

WHO’S HOT – The hottest jockey over the last five racing days (Nov. 11-17) is Julien Leparoux (9-for-31). Dale Romans (4-for-11) and Mike Maker (4-for-12) are the hottest trainers over the same period and Ken and Sarah Ramsey (4-for-10) are the hottest owners.

WORKTABBobby Flay’s Super Espresso, seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (Grade I) in her most recent start, breezed four furlongs in company with Giant Sensation on a fast main track at Churchill Downs on Friday morning in :47.80 for trainer Todd Pletcher. Super Espresso recorded fractions of :12.20,, :24.20, :35.80 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.60 and six furlongs in 1:14.20.  She is nominated to the $175,000-added Falls City Handicap for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the main track on Thanksgiving Day. …

Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Gran Lioness breezed four furlongs on the main track in :49.80 for trainer Bret Calhoun. The work was the 28th fastest of 47 at the distance. Gran Lioness has not raced since finishing third to Salty Strike in the Dogwood (GIII) at Churchill Downs in June.