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Keen Ice the 'Prototype Derby Horse'

April 18, 2015

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Exerpt via Churchill Downs Press Release

Donegal Racing’s Keen Ice, a closing fourth in the Louisiana Derby (GII), breezed six furlongs in 1:13.20 Saturday morning at Churchill Downs while in company with a workmate. Breaking off from the five-furlong pole, exercise rider Tammy Fox positioned Keen Ice on the outside of the companion and guided the 3-year-old Curlin colt through fractions of :23.20, :35.20, :47.20 and :59.80. After the conclusion of the work to the seven-eighths pole, Keen Ice galloped out an addition furlong in 1:27.60.

Keen Ice, who broke his maiden at Churchill Downs in September, has banked $160,395 from a record of 1-0-2 in seven starts. He accrued 22 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby from third place finishes in the Remsen (2 points) and Risen Star (10 points) and his Louisiana Derby fourth (10 points). That put him No. 21 on the preference list, which meant he needed one horse to withdraw in order to compete in the May 2 classic.

“We’ve been taking our time with this horse,” trainer Dale Romans said. “I’ve never really squeezed the lemon and made him work fast because he’s not a naturally fast workhorse. But coming into this race (the Kentucky Derby), he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. We’ve been hoping to squeeze the lemon the last three weeks before the Derby and have him peak to run an all-time best race on the first Saturday in May. So far it’s working out well. He had a fast five-eighths work last week (1:00.20 on April 11) and this week he comes back three-quarters (of a mile) in 1:13 and change. We’ve got one more big work ahead of us and two defections are all we need. (Editor’s Note: One Lucky Dane was withdrawn from Kentucky Derby consideration after a mishap in a Saturday workout at Santa Anita; the injury occurred after speaking with Romans).

“This is a prototype Derby horse. He’s built like one – big and strong and should be able to handle himself if he gets bumped around – and the further they run, the better. Every race he’s run, he’s been closing fast. This is the first time these horses will be going a mile-and-a-quarter. He does not control his own destiny like a horse that has tactical pace and they forwardly place themselves. We’re going to need a fast pace and a clean trip but if we get it then he’s the type of horse that can win the Derby.”

Romans doesn’t have to fret about getting into the May 1 Longines Kentucky Oaks with Forum Racing’s Birddatthewire. The Forward Gal and Gulfstream Park Oaks winner breezed a half-mile in :47.20 with splits of :11.80, :23.60 and :35.20. She galloped out five furlongs in :59.60, three-quarters of a mile in 1:12.60 and seven-eighths in 1:27.
 
“Birdatthewire is just a push-button horse,” Romans said. “Everything she does is easy. There are no issues and no problems. If she’s the best horse she’ll win.”

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