That sigh of relief emanating from Aqueduct early Wednesday afternoon came from trainer Kelly Breen after watching Ruler On Ice win for the first time since his upset victory in the 2011 Belmont Stakes.
Under Irad Ortiz Jr., Ruler On Ice rallied from last in a four-horse to field to run down pacesetting Spa City Fever and win a third-level allowance race by three-quarters of a length. It broke a nine-racing losing streak dating back to the Belmont for Ruler On Ice, a 5-year-old gelding by Roman Ruler owned by George and Lori Hall.
“Whew,” Breen said afterward. “It’s nice to be back in the winner’s circle with a classic winner. I thought he would have been a little short going into it, but I think his class showed.”
Though he broke alertly, Ruler On Ice was third going into the first turn as Spa City Fever, under Guillermo Rodriguez, set the early fractions of 23.93 seconds and 47.24 for the opening half-mile. Ruler On Ice was then passed by Keep Me Informed down the backstretch.
Ruler On Ice came three wide in the stretch and in the final furlong he kicked in and was able to run down the 7-year-old Spa City Fever about 50 yards from the wire.
Ruler On Ice covered the mile over a fast track in 1:36.97 and returned $4.50 as the 6-5 favorite.
“A mile isn’t his best distance and it took him a while … you just like to see him the way he ran down the stretch,” Breen said. “I thought Irad rode him great.
Breen isn’t sure what would be next for Ruler On Ice, but he did say the horse would stay at Belmont Park to train.
“I like the way he trains here better than he did in Florida so there’s pretty much no reason to change anything right now,” Breen said. “I’m happy to get him back to his winning ways. I know it wasn’t easy. He looked tired. Even the jock said galloping out he said he felt tired.”