09/18/2011 12:58PM

Parx: Ruler On Ice gets green light for Pennsylvania Derby

Justin N. Lane
Ruler On Ice, shown winning the Belmont Stakes in June, will run in Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby rather than face older horses a week later in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

 Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice will make his next start in Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing, trainer Kelly Breen confirmed Sunday morning.

 Breen added that Garrett Gomez will ride Ruler On Ice, replacing Jose Valdivia, who was aboard for the gelding’s victory in the Belmont Stakes.

“It was an opportunity to get him and we seized it,’’ Breen said of the rider change. “That’s all.’’

Breen said that owners George and Lori Hall ultimately made the decision to run in the Pennsylvania Derby rather than the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont a week later.

The purse of the Pennsylvania Derby is obviously greater than the Jockey Club and the connections of a horse who won a classic race - or the Travers - receive a $50,000 bonus for participating in the derby. The competition also figures to be easier than facing older horses Tizway and Flat Out as well as Travers winner Stay Thirsty, all who are pointing for the Jockey Club.

“We know he likes Belmont, but the Pennsylvania Derby is the way we’re going,’’ Breen said. “This is the way we chose, no real rhyme or reason.’’

Ruler On Ice did win a first-level allowance race at Parx earlier in the year.

On Sunday, Ruler On Ice worked four furlongs in 47.40 seconds at Monmouth Park. According to Breen, Ruler On Ice sat just off a stablemate, Magical Myth, and ended up on even terms with him at the wire. Elvis Trujillo was aboard for the move.

Breen said the way Ruler On Ice has been training since his fourth-place finish to Stay Thirsty in the Travers has “kind of got me excited. I’m highly anticipating watching him run.’’

Others expected to run in the Pennsylvania Derby are Arthur’s Tale, To Honor and Serve, Rush Now, Norman Asbjornson, and Rattlesnake Bridge.

Trainer Steve Asmussen, via text, said he does not plan to run anything in the Derby. The Asmussen-trained Wilburn won the Smarty Jones, which is the prep for the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 5.

Entries for the Pennsylvania Derby - and the $250,000 Gallant Bob for 3-year-old sprinters - will be taken Monday afternoon after the conclusion of the live race card at Parx.