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Desormeaux confident in 'fresh' Keen Ice

June 1, 2015

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Article via The Courier-Journal, Jonathan Lintner. Photo by Garry Jones/Associated Press

Kent Desormeaux missed winning a Triple Crown aboard trainer Bob Baffert's Real Quiet by a nose in 1998. This Saturday, he'll look to play spoiler for another Baffert bid.

The veteran jockey, who also rode Big Brown in 2008 and won the Belmont Stakes in 2009 aboard Summer Ice, will be aboard Kentucky Derby runner Keen Ice in this year's race. The Dale Romans-trained and Donegal Racing-owned son of Curlin sat 17th -- next to last -- at the half-mile pole in the Derby before running late to finish seventh.

With the Belmont run at 1 1/2 miles, "Speed at this point is now irrelevant," Desormeaux said. "You'd need a horse that can stay, and the guy that I ride will be naturally closer because of the human element."

Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah figures to set the pace at Belmont Park with little pace expected, other than from trainer Todd Pletcher's Materiality and Carpe Diem. Normally a recipe to make closers irrelevant, that type of race, Desormeaux reasoned, sets up well for Keen Ice.

"They're not going to go 46 (for the half-mile) in the Belmont, otherwise you'd have no chance," he said. "So they'll slow it down and that will put me naturally closer and if Keen Ice finishes like he finished in the Derby, he has a chance. He'll be competitive.

"I'm looking forward to it. I like running out of horse at about the16th pole and then trying to carry him the rest of the way and win a race. In the Derby, I went under the wire full of horse. After a mile and a quarter he was just as fresh going under the wire the second time."

Keen Ice, as with American Pharoah, prepped for the Belmont at Churchill Downs, where Romans is based. Once a winner at the maiden level and twice third at the stakes level, he's scheduled to work out Tuesday under the Twin Spires before shipping to New York.

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