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Jun 17, 2011

Longshot Ruler On Ice wins muddy Belmont


Elmont, NY (Sports Network) - Longshot Ruler On Ice, ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., stalked pacesetter Shackleford and went on to post an upset victory in Saturday's 143rd Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. The colt covered the 1 1/2- mile Test of Champions in 2:30.88 on a sloppy track.

This year's Belmont Stakes was just the 22nd time that the winners of the first two legs of the Triple Crown met in the final race of the historic series. The last time was in 2005 when Preakness winner Afleet Alex won, while Kentucky Derby champ Giacomo was seventh.

This year's Preakness winner Shackleford, with Jesus Castanon riding, broke sharply from the far outside post and set the pace on the sloppy Belmont Park track. Pressing the pace was Ruler On Ice followed by Stay Thirsty, Santiva, Mucho Macho Man and Nehro in the 12-horse field.

Kentucky Derby champ Animal Kingdom stumbled badly at the start, nearly unseating jockey John Velazquez. The 5-2 favorite was last as the field went around the first turn and up the backstretch.

"He broke OK and the horse on the outside came in on him," Velazquez said about the start.

Shackleford continued to set the pace with Ruler On Ice second as the field went up the backstretch and into the far turn. Animal Kingdom trailed the field, but began to advance entering the far turn.

Around the turn for home Shackleford, sent off at 6-1, had the lead as Ruler On Ice pressured him along with Brilliant Speed who was gaining from the outside. Mucho Macho Man moved into fourth as the field entered the stretch.

At the top of the stretch Ruler On Ice took over the lead from Shackleford with Brilliant Speed moving into second. Animal Kingdom was gaining ground down the middle of the track after running last most of the race.

Trained by Kelly Breen, Ruler On Ice held off Stay Thirsty down the stretch and was able to win the final leg of the Triple Crown by a half-length.

Finishing third was Brilliant Speed followed by Nehro, Shackleford, Animal Kingdom, Mucho Macho Man, Santiva, Monzon, Master of Hounds, Prime Cut and Isn't He Perfect.

"We always had a lot of confidence in this colt," said George Hall, who owns the horse with his wife Lori.

Ruler On Ice, who is based at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, collects $600,000 from the victory. A gelding, he has won three of seven starts for $766,500.

"He loves the slop," said the winning jockey. "I couldn't believe it."

Ruler On Ice came into the Belmont off a second-place finish in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico. In his other stakes race, the chestnut gelding was third to Twice the Appeal in the Sunland Derby. He won for the first time on a sloppy track last year at Delaware Park.

Ruler On Ice returned $51.50, $26.00 and $13.60. Stay Thirsty paid $19.40 and $10.80, and Brilliant Speed paid $7.90 to show.

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