03/20/2013 3:04PM

Aqueduct: Ruler On Ice finally healthy for Excelsior

Barbara D. Livingston
Ruler On Ice will try for his first stakes win since the 2011 Belmont Stakes in Saturday's Grade 3 Excelsior.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Trainer Kelly Breen hopes the allowance win recorded by Ruler On Ice in January was the start of big things to come this year for the 2011 Belmont Stakes winner.

He’ll find out more Saturday when Ruler On Ice runs against six rivals in the Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior Stakes going 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct. The Excelsior will go as race 9 on a 10-race card beginning at 12:50  p.m. Eastern.

Ruler On Ice had lost 10 straight races – including all four of his starts as a 4-year-old – before winning a third-level allowance Jan. 30 over the inner track. Breen said Ruler On Ice, who has had his share of physical issues over the years, seems to be back to his pre-Belmont Stakes ways.

“He seems to be training forwardly; he’s got that spark back in his eye,” Breen said. “I’d like to say we got him back to where he used to be. He’s training good; he looks good.”

Breen said Ruler On Ice’s 4-year-old campaign was compromised by minor physical issues.

“Through the vigors of racing, he had soreness that was a little bit here, a little bit there, a little bit all over,” Breen said. “He’d be getting over one thing, and that would cause something else to go sore.”

Breen gave Ruler On Ice plenty of downtime following September’s Jockey Club Gold Cup, in which he was eased.

“He has the talent – you know it’s there, but he might not be moving as well as you want him to move,” Breen said. “By giving him time and trying different things with him, hopefully it all pays off.”

Ruler On Ice will break from post  7 and will have Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard. Ortiz apparently chose Ruler On Ice over Last Gunfighter, whom he rode to victory in the Evening Attire, and Joan’s Choice, whom he rode to a win in the Moro Stakes.

Rajiv Maragh has picked up the mount on Last Gunfighter, who seeks his fifth straight win since moving to trainer Chad Brown’s barn.

Jose Ortiz, who began life as a journeyman jockey Friday, has picked up the mount on Joan’s Choice.

The other entrants are Colizeo, Mordi’s Miracle, Heart Butte and Isn’t He Perfect. Isn’t He Perfect, second in the Evening Attire and Moro, has been transferred from Doodnauth Shivmangal to Edward Lotrigulio and has Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux named.