In the only equipment change among Belmont Stakes
participants, Ruler On Ice will wear blinkers for the first time in the
“Test of the Champion.”
The gelded chestnut son of Roman Ruler was second in the 1
1/16-mile Federico Tesio on May 7 and third in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby at 1
1/8 miles on March 27 in his previous two starts, beaten a total of 3 ½ lengths.
“I think he’s just a little green. He hasn’t figured it out
entirely,” said Lori Hall, who co-owns Ruler On Ice with her husband, George.
“With each race, you can see he’s taking that energy further and we’re trying
to get him to focus. He will have blinkers on Saturday, and we think that
that’s going to be the one factor that puts it all together for him. His head
starts swinging around once he gets ahead of everyone, and he forgets what he
was doing. Sometimes, they just need to stay focused, and I think the blinkers
are going to help him do that.”
Though they have been to the Kentucky Derby, including this
year with Pants On Fire, this will be the first Belmont
for the Halls and trainer Kelly Breen.
“He’s just an honest guy,” Hall said of the 42-year-old
Breen, a former assistant to trainer Ben Perkins Jr. “He was always there to
help answer questions when we were feeling our way around. He’s always been
true to the sport, true to the animals and true to the owners.”
Ruler On Ice has been training in blinkers, including a
five-furlong breeze from the gate at Monmouth
Park in 1:01 on June 4,
the fastest of 23 horses at the distance that day.
“He put in a bullet workout, and everything looks good,”
Hall said. “As Kelly would say, ‘All systems go.’
“We’re definitely very excited, reading all the articles.
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.”