Keen Ice ex­pected for Donn

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Marty McGee – ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Mike Welsch Fol­low Mike Welsch on Twit­ter @DRFWelsch

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Keen Ice and It­saknock­out are the big­gest names Gulf­stream Park rac­ing of­fi­cials are ex­pect­ing for the Grade 1 Donn Hand­i­cap, which is one of six stakes to be run here next Satur­day, Feb. 6.

Keen Ice, the only horse to de­feat Amer­i­can Pharoah last year, was sched­uled to have his fi­nal pre-race breeze this week­end at Gulf­stream in pre­par­ing for the $500,000 Donn.

“He’s done re­ally well with the lit­tle down­time we gave him,” said Dale Ro­mans, trainer of Keen Ice, who up­set Amer­i­can Pharoah in the Travers Stakes in Au­gust. “We’re hop­ing this is the first step to­ward a huge year. We re­ally think he could be the best older horse in the coun­try in 2016.”

It­saknock­out is one of as many as four horses that trainer Todd Pletcher could send post­ward in the 1 1/8-mile Donn, with the oth­ers be­ing Made­from­lucky, Mshaw­ish, and Tommy Ma­cho. It­saknock­out re­cently re­turned from an eight-month lay­off with a dom­i­nat­ing op­tional-claim­ing vic­tory.

“We’re re­ally happy with the way he’s come back,” said Jack Wolf, whose Starlight Rac­ing owns It­saknock­out.

Other Donn prospects in­clude Fi­nan­cial Mod­el­ing, Mexikoma, Page McKen­ney, and pos­si­bly Clos­ing Bell.

Weight as­sign­ments were to be re­leased Satur­day, with en­tries drawn Wed­nes­day.

Plan B for The Pizza Man

The Donn un­der­card got a real plum when trainer Roger Bruegge­mann said Fri­day that The Pizza Man will be ship­ping in for the Grade 1 Gulf­stream Park Turf Hand­i­cap.

A 2015 Eclipse Award fi­nal­ist for older turf horse, The Pizza Man had been in­tended for the San Mar­cos at Santa Anita, also run Satur­day, but suit­able travel ar­range­ments could not

be made, said Bruegge­mann. In­stead, the 7-year-old Illinois-bred geld­ing will be vanned here from his win­ter head­quar­ters at Fair Grounds in New Or­leans.

The Pizza Man, an earner of nearly $1.9 mil­lion for owner­breeder Mid­west Thor­ough­breds, fig­ures to be fa­vored in the $350,000 Gulf­stream Park Turf Hand­i­cap, a 1 1/8-mile race ex­pected to get an­other seven or eight older horses.

The other four stakes here Satur­day are the Grade 3, $150,000 Suwan­nee River; the Grade 3, $100,000 Fred Hooper; the $75,000 Gulf­stream Park Turf Sprint; and the $75,000 Ladies Turf Sprint.

Gen­eral a Rod finds his form

Gen­eral a Rod looked like the Gen­eral a Rod of old when he splashed to an easy 7 1/2-length vic­tory over Mid­night Cello Thurs­day at 1 1/16 miles un­der op­tional-claim­ing con­di­tions.

Gen­eral a Rod was among the lead­ing 3-year-old prospects on the grounds here two win­ters ago, win­ning the Gulf­stream Park Derby be­fore fin­ish­ing se­cond in the Foun­tain of Youth and third in the Florida Derby. He par­tic­i­pated in all three legs of the Triple Crown that sea­son, with his best ef­fort a fourth­place fin­ish in the Preak­ness.

But in­juries slowed his ca­reer. Thurs­day marked just Gen­eral a Rod’s sixth start since the Bel­mont and was his first vic­tory since he cruised to a tri­umph in the Chal­lenger Stakes last March at Tampa Bay. On Thurs­day, over a sloppy track, Gen­eral a Rod missed the track record for 1 1/16 miles by just 0.26 sec­onds while match­ing his ca­reer-best Beyer Speed Fig­ure of 104.

“It seems like he’s get­ting back to his old form,” said John Ve­lazquez, who has been aboard Gen­eral a Rod in his last five starts.

Don Lu­carelli, the co-man­ag­ing part­ner for Starlight Sta­ble along with Jack Wolf, said the orig­i­nal plan was to put Gen­eral a Rod back on the grass af­ter his sixth-place fin­ish be­hind sta­ble­mate It­saknock­out here last month. But Gen­eral a Rod had been train­ing so well on dirt that trainer Todd Pletcher de­cided to keep him on that sur­face, Lu­carelli said.

Gen­eral a Rod tried turf for the only time last spring, fin­ish­ing 11th in the Grade 1 Man­hat­tan.

Wolf and Lu­carelli said they’d leave the de­ci­sion up to Pletcher where to run Gen­eral a Rod next, but hoped they might re­ceive an in­vi­ta­tion to the Dubai World Cup – to at least have that op­tion.

◗ Gulf­stream is run­ning a 13-race card next Sun­day – Su­per Bowl Sun­day. The card starts at noon East­ern and ends shortly be­fore 6 p.m. The Su­per Bowl kicks off at about 6:30.

“We’re invit­ing fans to stick around and watch the game right here,” said rac­ing sec­re­tary P.J. Campo.

◗ About 25 3-year-olds from this area com­peted last week in four stakes at the Ocala Breed­ers’ Sales, in­clud­ing maybe a half-dozen that might have been com­pet­i­tive on the Holy Bull card here Satur­day. No more than seven horses were en­tered in four of the five stakes here on Satur­day.


Travers win­ner Keen Ice is ex­pected for the Donn Hand­i­cap next Satur­day. The Donn is among six stakes on the card.

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