Can Keen Ice Gain Gold Cup Form Heading Towards Third Classic Try
By Alastair Bull, courtesy TwinSpires.com
Keen Ice lines up in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park aiming to prove his readiness for a third crack at the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
Though there may not be too many representatives of the Kentucky Derby class of 2017 at the Breeders’ Cup this year. Keen Ice brings the Derby class of 2015 is out to show he’s not out of the picture this weekend.
Keen Ice was the only horse to lower American Pharoah’s colors in his triumphant 2015 campaign, doing so in the Travers Stakes (G1), but he spent most of the year chasing the Triple Crown winner, finishing seventh in the Kentucky Derby, third in the Belmont Stakes (G1), second in the Haskell (G1), and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The following year he finished third in the Classic, well behind Arrogate and California Chrome. This year his best efforts have been fourth to Arrogate in the Pegasus World Cup (G1), victory in the Suburban Handicap (G2), and a distant second to Gun Runner in the Whitney Handicap (G1).
He faces one other former Derby runner in the Jockey Club Gold Cup – 2016 Derby sixth-place finisher Destin. He went very close to winning the Belmont Stakes, being nosed out by Creator, but he hasn’t raced much since. This year he’s raced only in two allowances, the most recent for a narrow win at Saratoga.
The 3-year-olds are represented by two horses who arrived later on the scene: Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) winner Good Samaritan and Smarty Jones Stakes (G3) winner Pavel.
This year’s Triple Crown races, however, are set to be very lightly represented on Breeders’ Cup day. The best chance, one that’s not running this weekend, is probably Derby fifth-place finisher Practical Joke in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
The Jockey Club Gold Cup is one of 13 Breeders’ Cup Challenge races in the next three days, the last chance for horses to win their way into U.S. racing’s biggest day.
Included among the 13 are two races carrying entry into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that also double as Road to the Kentucky Derby points races: the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, and the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park.