10/05/2011 4:33PM

Belmont: Ice tries to revive 2009 magic with No Spin in Champagne


ELMONT, N.Y. – On a breezy fall Wednesday morning, trainer Tim Ice stood on a wooden platform just above and to the left of the Belmont Park winner’s circle. It’s a place he has been before.

“It feels like forever,’’ Ice said.

In reality, it’s only been 2 1/2 years since Ice hoisted the trophy following Summer Bird’s victory in the Belmont Stakes. For good measure, Summer Bird came back to Belmont that fall and won the Jockey Club Gold Cup en route to winning an Eclipse Award as the 3-year-old champion.

Ice hopes to be back in the Belmont winner’s circle Saturday when he sends out No Spin in the $300,000 Champagne Stakes for 2-year-old colts. The Champagne is one of three Grade 1 races on Saturday’s 10-race card. The Champagne winner gets an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.

While Union Rags, dominant winner of the Saratoga Special in August, will be a strong favorite, No Spin appears to fit with the remainder of the group.

A son of Johannesburg, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when it was held at Belmont in 2001, No Spin has made all three of his starts over the synthetic surface at Arlington. After finishing third in his debut in July, he came back to win a maiden race by 5 1/2 lengths in August. Last month, No Spin finished fourth to Shared Property in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity with a troubled trip under Eddie Perez.

“He was down on the rail, had absolutely nowhere to go; when he tried to move him out another horse come out and just nailed him,’’ Ice said. “Eddie Perez had to stand up on him. Finally, he was able to work him outside and when he did he came with a late run. He clearly should have finished a lot better than he did. I have a lot of hopes for this colt, it seems like he could be a good one.’’

Ice did work No Spin behind horses on the dirt at Hawthorne before shipping him to New York, and felt the horse moved “equally as nice on the dirt as he did on the Poly,’’ Ice said.

Ice trains No Spin for a partnership that includes Leonard Blach, who in 2009 campaigned Mine That Bird, the Kentucky Derby winner who had a little rivalry going with Ice’s horse Summer Bird.

“He told me he was wanting to get a horse for me so we could try to do it together,’’ Ice said. “We’ll see how this colt does. He’s impressed me with everything he’s done so far.’’

No Spin, who will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh in the Champagne, drew the rail. Outside of No Spin, in post position order, are Speightscity, Takes the Gold, Power World, Alpha, Union Rags, Right to Vote, Invocation, and Laurie’s Rocket.