Donegal Racing’s Keen Ice put in his final work Tuesday at Churchill Downs before taking on Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI) winner American Pharoah in Saturday’s $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI) at Belmont Park.
The 3-year-old son of Curlin breezed a half-mile in :50.20 with Tammy Fox in the saddle for trainer Dale Romans at approximately 6:15 a.m. ET. Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols timed Keen Ice in 1/8-mile splits of :12.40, :25 and :37.60 before galloping out five furlongs in 1:04/40.
"I thought he looked great and he worked great; it looked perfect,” Romans said. “He’s doing so good that it’s scary. It’s all a matter of whether or not he’s good enough. There’s not another fear to have.
“With a lack of pace he [Keen Ice] will be laying closer. This is a race that even though people think it’s for a deep closer, it’s not; you need to be in the race. Woody Stephens said years ago that it’s a speed horse race going a mile-and-a-half and so lack of pace will keep us in contact and I know that we have the endurance to keep going.”
Romans added that he will not be sending Birdatthewire for the $750,000 Acorn (GI) or any other horses to Belmont for the undercard.
“We need to stay focused,” Romans said.
AMERICAN PHAROAH, KEEN ICE DEPART CHURCHILL DOWNS FOR NEW YORK – Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner American Pharoah walked the shed row of Barn 33 Tuesday morning before departing Churchill Downs at 10 a.m. (all times Eastern) for a van ride to Louisville International Airport for his flight to New York in anticipation of Saturday’s $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI).
The H.E. “Tex” Sutton Forwarding Co. charter flight, which also included Belmont Stakes rival Keen Ice, departed at 11:40 a.m. and was due to arrive at Long Island MacArthur Airport around 1:15 p.m.
“He looked very good this morning; we’re loaded, packed and ready to go,” said trainer Bob Baffert’s assistant Jimmy Barnes, one day after American Pharoah breezed five furlongs in 1:00.20. “My mind right now is focusing on getting a safe trip to New York and what kind of post position we’ll draw and all that. But other than that it’s just anxiousness. You just want to run the race. We’ve done everything we can do on our part, except for getting a safe trip to New York and getting through the paddock and then it will be all up to Victor [Espinoza].”
Also boarded on the same van as American Pharoah for Baffert were Kaleem Shah’s Bayern, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner who runs on the Belmont Stakes undercard in the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap (GI), and Enchanting Lady, who runs Friday in the $150,000 Jersey Girl.
SPECIAL BELMONT STAKES DAY BOX SEAT PACKAGE – Churchill Downs has a special box seat package for the June 6 Belmont Stakes simulcast. For $24, fans can get an undercover box seat, official program, a domestic beer or souvenir soda and a custom, limited-edition Kentucky Derby 141 T-Shirt that features a victorious American Pharaoh. Fans can purchase the package by visiting the online box office at www.ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets.