07/23/2011 4:22PM

Saratoga: Long-absent Ice Box nearly ready to return

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Nick Zito says he would like to find an allowance race for the first start in Ice Box's comeback.

Ice Box, idle since finishing fifth in the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup last October and winless since upsetting the 2010 Florida Derby, worked a half-mile in 49.80 seconds over the Oklahoma training track on Saturday and should not be long in making his 2011 debut.

Ice Box was sidelined after having a chip surgically removed from his right knee. He was close to returning this past winter in Florida but suffered a series of what trainer Nick Zito called “minor interruptions” which delayed his comeback.

“Thank God, he’s finally ready,” said Zito. “We’ll look for an allowance race to start him back and then see what happens after that.”

Zito said that Jackson Bend, who like Ice Box is owned by Robert Lapenta, came out of Friday’s impressive victory in the James Marvin Stakes in good order. Jackson Bend received a career-best 108 Beyer Speed Figure for his 2 1/2-length decision over Hamazing Destiny on opening day.

“Right now the Forego is the plan,” said Zito. “He’s never been beaten at distances of seven furlongs or less and you have to think about that, although you can never say never in this business and we do have some other options for him if we choose to go in another direction.”

Raison d’Etat to go in Curlin

Raison d’Etat, a royally-bred colt who is coming off a 7 3/4-length maiden win last month at Belmont, is among eight 3-year-olds under consideration for Friday’s $75,000 Curlin Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.

Raison d’Etat, a Juddmonte Farms homebred product of Grade 1 winners Empire Maker and Sightseek, worked five furlongs in 1:02.19 Saturday morning over the Oklahoma training track. Raison d’Etat started the work five lengths behind stablemate Gold d’Oro, caught him leaving the quarter pole and edged clear in the final sixteenth and finished three lengths clear.

Also working for the Curlin on Saturday were Gulden Gulch, a winner of two straight who went four furlongs in 49.20 seconds over the Oklahoma training track, and Point of Entry, who also went four furlongs in 48.60 over the training track.

Others pointing to the Curlin include Bold Warrior, Prime Cut, Rush Now, Turbo Compressor, and Will’s Wildcat.

◗ Rockettes Escapade had to be humanely destroyed after suffering a condylar fracture to her right hind ankle during the running of Saturday’s first race.

– additional reporting by David Grening