01/20/2007 12:00AM

Ice N Lemon to try turf in comeback


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Trainer Nick Zito will move Ice N Lemon to the turf on Tuesday, when the once promising colt makes his comeback in the optional claiming feature at Tampa Bay Downs. The 1 1/16-mile turf race offers a second-level allowance condition.

Buddy Winnett Jr., who has been riding quite a few of Zito's runners here the past few weeks, will be aboard Ice N Lemon, who makes his first start since August. Now 4, Ice N Lemon has a series of five workouts over the local strip in preparation for Tuesday's race.

This time last season, Ice N Lemon was one of many promising 3-year-olds in the Zito barn, running against top 3-year-olds such as Strong Contender and Barbican in allowance races before making his stakes debut in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby, where he finished ninth behind Deputy Glitters and Bluegrass Cat.

Ice N Lemon rebounded to win an allowance race at Keeneland, then was a distant fifth behind Sunriver in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont Park. Moved to Delaware Park, Ice N Lemon was third in a tough overnight stakes at 1 1/16 miles that was originally slated to be run on the turf. He then came up a half-length short in an allowance route before going to the sidelines.

While Ice N Lemon will no doubt get a good deal of public support in this race, Miami Sunrise, who has won two of his last three starts, may be the horse to beat. His wins came in restricted $35,000 claiming company at Aqueduct in November and against first-level allowance rivals here.

Equal Opportunity would have to draw in from the also-eligible list to run Tuesday but merits a long look if he does. Now trained by Graham Motion, Equal Opportunity won an overnight handicap at Arlington on the turf last summer for trainer Bill Mott and was bet down to 3-1 in the Grade 3 Arlington Classic, a race in which he faded to eighth after pressing the pace.