Ruler On Ice,
winner of the 2011 Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, will return to the races after a
five-month freshening on Wednesday in a $95,000 optional claimer at 1 1/8
The seven-horse field also includes multiple-stakes winner Pleasant
Prince as well as the graded stakes-placed Cease and Schoolyard Dreams.
“When you’re running for [a purse of] $95,000, you better
have your running shoes on,” trainer Kelly Breen said.
After winning the Belmont last year, Ruler On Ice, a son of Roman Ruler
owned by George and Lori Hall, finished fourth in the Grade 1 Travers, second
in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby and third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup
Classic. In the Grade 1 Clark Handicap in November, however, he was a dull
fifth. When he returned to the races in February, he again puzzled with an
eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.
“These horses aren’t machines, and he needed a
break,” Breen said. “When he ran in the Donn, he told us,
‘Guys, I’m tired.’ George and Lori have their farm in Versailles [Ky.],
and we kicked him out and we let him have some time to eat some grass and be a
horse. He seems to be coming back good right now.
“We’re eager to see how he’s going to run for his
fall campaign. I don’t think he’s 100 percent fit, but we’re
looking to take baby steps to get back into the big races.”