The Belmont Stakes trophy will be coming home to the Jersey Shore with winner Ruler On Ice, owners George and Lori Hall, and Monmouth Park based trainer Kelly Breen and jockey Jose Valdivia.
At 24-1, Ruler On Ice upset the 143rd edition of the third leg of the Triple Crown. The Belmont marked his 7th start on 7 different tracks at 6 different distances. Ruler On Ice came into the race with 2 wins, 2 seconds, and a third in 6 starts. Now $600,000 will be added to his previous earnings of $166,500.
Lori Hall’s comments a couple days prior to the race made it sound like the Ruler On Ice team knew exactly what was to come. About adding blinkers Hall said, “He forgets what he’s doing. Sometimes, they just need to stay focused, and I think the blinkers are going to help him do that.”
Further Ms. Hall thought the race would be special, “It’s going to be a tough race, but probably one of the most exciting Belmonts in the last couple of years. We’re definitely planning on being there, because I think it’s going to be historic.”
Ruler On Ice tracked Shackleford throughout the beginning stages of the race. Turning in to the stretch Ruler On Ice took the lead and shook off the challenge of Stay Thirsty.
After the race jockey Jose Valdivia said, “He was acting really good, he just gave me a really good feel around there. He loved the slop, the blinkers, and the mile and a half. It was able to sit second. It was the most comfortable second. At the half-mile pole he started picking up the tempo. When we turned for home he pricked up his ears.”
Owner George Hall, a Jersey Shore resident of Rumson, summed up Ruler On Ice’s performance, “Jose did exactly what we asked him to do and stayed close to the lead. You could see after the race, he wanted to do another victory lap. I think he’s a much better horse than the odds showed, and he proved it today.”
Finally trainer Kelly Breen commented on the equipment change, “He didn’t mature as fast as we wanted to. He’s already a gelding so we can’t castrate him again, so we put blinkers on. The first time out of the gate, Jose was on him. He was still goofing off and didn’t break great. Last week, he broke right and it’s like sometimes, the bulb just goes on. It was a perfect storm of things going right, and that’s how we got here.”
Congratulations to the Ruler On Ice team for bringing the Belmont Stakes victory to the Jersey Shore!
ABC’s of the Monmouth Hall of Champions -Today Forego – The three-time Horse of the Year in 1974, 1975, and 1976, won a total of eight Eclipse Awards. Forego raced until he was eight years old starting 57 times with 34-9-7 results while earning $1,938, 957. Forego ran at Monmouth Park only once, finishing third in the 1976 Amory L. Haskell Handicap. Forego ranks 12 in the Horse Racing Nation Top 250 Horses of All-Time with a 9.01/10 rating.