Ruler On Ice

Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!! to all the connections of 2011 Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice.

“I liked the way Stage Door Johnny progressed rapidly at three and won the Belmont in his very first start in a stakes race. Three-year-olds are still immature at this stage. It is a reminder that anything can happen in tomorrow’s Belmont Stakes.”


“Anything can happen in tomorrow’s Belmont Stakes.” It SURE DID. I am not going to anoint Ruler On Ice as the next coming of Stage Door Johnny. The only similarity is that they both won their first stakes victories in the Belmont (numerous other nags have won their first [and sometimes ONLY] stakes victories in the Belmont). SDJ had not even contested a stakes race before the 1968 Belmont. Ruler On Ice had contested two and had finished third in the Sunland Park Derby (G3) and second in the Federico Tesio Stakes.

“Three-year-olds are still immature at this stage.” You can say that one again after today’s result. Of course today’s result was affected by a sloppy track. Some of the Belmont starters liked it. Some did not. Other than that the race went pretty much according to Hoyle. Shackleford went to the front and tried to control the pace. The half went in about :49. He should have been able to win the race off that fraction if he was good enough. He did not appear to be good enough (and finished fifth).

Animal Kingdom did have a pretty severe problem at the start and probably lost all chance as a result (and finished sixth). I would expect him to come back and prove that he is  a much better horse than today’s result indicates.

On the other hand, I am GENERALLY skeptical about complaints that the horse lost all chance at the start of a race at a  mile and a half. I remember back in 2002 when War Emblem was bidding for the Triple Crown. His supporters claimed that he “lost all chance” when he broke poorly (not NEARLY as much of a problem as AK encountered). That was a total BS excuse. The race was a mile and a half. If War Emblem was good enough to be a TC winner, he would have overcome that problem. He DID not, and he WAS not. As a matter of fact, he was a pretty PATHETIC excuse of a three-year-old “champion” that year.

The problems that AK had at the start today were a lot more severe than the problems War Emblem had. Speaking of problems at the start, go back and look at the start of the 1997 Preakness. Tell me that Touch Gold would NOT have won that race with a decent start. He proved it in the Belmont (although alas, Silver Charm would have been a lot more deserving of being a TC winner than War Emblem ever was).

On a personal note, I was pleased to see that Brilliant Speed ran a good race today (third). I actually thought that he was gonna win at the quarter pole. I thought that he would have to be a lot closer to the pace today than he was in the Derby to have a chance to win. He WAS a lot closer to the pace today. He looked like he was making a good move at the quarter pole. Then he hung like a DEAD PIG. The closer you are to the pace (no matter how fast or slow it is), the less KICK you have at the finish. Shit happens. He ran a good race. Can’t complain.

Perhaps the overall lesson to be learned here is that horse racing is a matter of probabilities, and definitely NOT of certainties. What happened today in the Belmont Stakes was VERY UNEXPECTED and VERY UNLIKELY but NOT TOTALLY BEYOND the realm of probabilities. And it was definitely NOT the FIRST time that has happened in the Belmont Stakes (or any other horse race).

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3 Responses to Ruler On Ice

  1. Double Jay says:

    Well this was the one thing I did not want to happen in the race today, for some unknown horse out of no where and “steal” it from the favorites, or one of the half dozen I would haved liked to win. It seems to happen pretty often at the Belmont, so my nagging fear came true. I do hope Ruler On Ice will not be a one hit wonder. That would make the result even more of a disappointment. I think NBC was caught off guard too. They really did not have a lot of information on the winner, talking more about what went wrong with the favorites & how they felt about losing. Kudoes to Roman for his positive attitude about his horse and what he achieved. I think he was sincerely upbeat and thankful and not an acting job.

    Repole got some satisfaction with Stay Thirsty but his ego gets on my nerves. I got pretty tired of him Derby week. I do hope his ego doesn’t push Uncle Mo too soon in his recovery from a serious illness. I just don’t get why people are gushing all over him about what a great owner he is for putting the horse’s welfare first. He had a sick horse & scratched it, the logical & right thing to do. He has provided the best medical care available. He has the resources to do this and it is also the logical & right thing to do with a horse of Uncle Mo’s caliber & potential dollar value.

    Any illness involving the immune system requires a lot of recovery time & not stressing the body. Anybody out there try to push on through a bad case of mono? It doesn’t work. Also the cause of his illness is not known, just some potential causes from the text books. He appears to be feeling a lot better but that does not mean he is up to training, even light. It just sounds like he is in fantasy land with plans of racing him in August or even this year. The owners of Barbaro are the class act for caring for their horse’s health & well being. They spent a small fortune on the best medical care but never allowed him to suffer. That is putting the needs of the horse first.

    I went way off topic but I guess I just had to get that whole Mike Repole thing out of my system! I too was glad Brilliant Speed had a respectable finish and very shocked that Master of Hounds was 10th! Obrien’s horses are trained to go that far in Europe and it rains a lot over there. I question why in the Derby & the Belmont he did not send the horse in time to try out the track more than one day.

    • ddink55 says:

      The Blood-Horse reports that Uncle Mo has been diagnosed with cholangiohepatitis: “severe inflammation of the bile passages and adjacent liver, which sporadically causes hepatic failure in horses and ruminants.” Uncle Mo reported has gained 67 pounds since being moved to WinStar Farm near Versailles, Kentucky, where he has been undergoing lots of testing. “Repole said he hopes Uncle Mo is back in trainer Todd Pletcher’s New York barn before Aug. 1.” We wish the horse well.

      • Double Jay says:

        Here is a more detailed description of Uncle Mo’s diagnosis from The Horse Health Newsletter from Here are exerpts of this artice, so not to repeat what you have already stated:

        Veterinarians Release Uncle Mo’s Diagnosis
        by: The Horse Staff
        June 03 2011, Article # 18346

        According to a statement released June 3 by owner Mike Repole, the determination of what led to the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby to be withdrawn from the race came following a biopsy of the liver and lymph nodes. After being scratched from the Derby two days before the race, Uncle Mo was sent to WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky., where he underwent extensive testing by some of the top equine internists in the country.

        “Uncle Mo has been diagnosed with cholangiohepatitis,” the veterinary team of internists Bill Bernard, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, of Lexington Equine Surgery and Sports Medicine; Doug Byars, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM; and Tom Divers, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, Dipl. ACVECC a professor of medicine at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine; said in the statement. “The cause of how he contracted cholangiohepatitis is unknown.”

        “Cholangiohepatitis can come from different sources–plant toxins, supplements, an obstruction, or bile stones,” said Bernard. “We can rule out some of those differentials with the horse being a racehorse. It may be an immune hepatitis infection, probably not bacteria.”

        Uncle Mo has not been treated for chloangiohepatitis. Instead, his condition has been continuously monitored since his arrival at WinStar. His condition has been improving, much to the pleasure of his owner and caretakers.

        “He’s getting turnout and fresh grass and we’ve added more digestible fiber. His diet has changed some, not just for the chloangiohepatitis, but for trying to gain weight,” said Bernard. “Since Uncle Mo has been at WinStar he has gained 67 pounds, his blood work is going in the right direction, his energy level is up, and his attitude has improved. We are optimistic about his prognosis and getting back to the track and continuing his racing career.”

        *Note that this article states there are several causes of chloangiohepatitis and the cause of Uncle Mo’s illness is not known. It may be an immune hepatitis infection. Neither is he being treated for chloangiohepatitis. He is receiving turn out and fresh grass and a change in diet. This appears to be responsible for his weight gain of 67 pounds.

        Wasn’t he 150 lbs or more underweight Derby week? Just sayin’ this looks more serious/chronic than it is being portrayed. I am so glad he is improving. I’m no Vet but if he were my horse I would be concerned about pushing him too soon into training. Just because he feels like frolicking in the pasture does not mean he is up to training. Maybe starting light training is how this is determined, again I don’t know. But I am still concerned about his health, especially since Mr. Repole took so long to determine he was not fit to run in the Derby.

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