Keen Ice Definite to Take on Pharoah in Haskell
Article via The Courier-Journal, Jennie Rees
Donegal Racing's Keen Ice, third in the Belmont Stakes in his last start, has joined the small collection of horses whose connections are game to take on Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the $1 million Haskell Invitational Aug. 2 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
Keen Ice is a late-running horse, and Monmouth is known as being speed-oriented. But trainer Dale Romans said the risk-rewards merit taking a shot.
"The Haskell is the Haskell," he said. "If you were to upset and win the race, you're an instant sire. I'm as big a fan of American Pharoah as anybody. But he's had a tough campaign. It's hard to maintain that. I think it's going to be a smaller field. When you get past him, it's a lot of people with a lot of horses that you wouldn't mind running against. They're all good, solid horses, but I'm sure he's run a bunch of people off."
Others considered likely are Mr. Jordan, Competitive Edge, War Story and Tekton. The race will be broadcast on NBC from 5-6 p.m. ET.
Bob Baffert, American Pharoah's trainer, is shooting for an eighth victory in the Grade I Haskell.
Romans noted that Baffert "nailed me on the wire" when Coil nipped Romans' Preakness winner Shackleford in 2011.
"That's when I had the broken foot," Romans reflected. "I weighed over 300 pounds. It was a 100 degrees. We had to walk back to the barn. Walking back, Tammy (life partner Tammy Fox) is about 5, 10 feet in front of me. I'm sweating, my foot's hurting, I just got nailed on the wire of a $1 million race. She looks back at me and says, 'You just can't beat Bob.'
"I wanted to kill her, but I couldn't catch her. "She said, 'You just can't beat Bob.' What killed me is that she was right…. I did get him in the Pacific Classic though," when Dullahan defeated Game on Dude.
Keen Ice is 1 for 9 but has been a late-running third in three graded stakes, four in another and fifth in two others. He was seventh in the Kentucky Derby after encountering considerable trouble and not breaking through until too late.
Keen Ice is a son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, who finished third in the 2007 Haskell but returned to win the Breeders' Cup Classic over the same track.