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Keen Ice warms up for Derby

9m

With intermittent light rain falling at Churchill Downs, Donegal Racing's Keen Ice breezed five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 the morning of April 25 in his final Kentucky Derby work.

Breaking from the four-furlong pole, the 3-year-old son of Curlin trained by Dale Romans was timed in splits of :11 4/5 seconds, :24 seconds, :36 seconds, and :48 3/5 seconds for the first half-mile of the work. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:15 3/5.

With Romans' partner and assistant trainer Tammy Fox aboard, Keen Ice was one of the first horses on the track during the 15-minute period set aside for Derby and Longines Kentucky Oaks horses to work following the maintenance break.

"He was perfect," Romans said. "He looked happy out there. He's not a fast horse. I just told Tammy to let him do what he wants."

Keen Ice officially drew into the body of the Derby, which is restricted to 20 starters based on points earned in qualifying prep races, after trainer Todd Pletcher removed Madefromlucky from Derby consideration April 24. Keen Ice, a $120,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase, was bred in Kentucky by Glencrest Farm.

In his lone career victory to date, the colt broke his maiden at Churchill in his second start and has two third-place finishes -- in the 2014 Remsen and this year's Risen Star Stakes, both Grade 2 -- to his credit.

Jerry Crawford, managing partner for Donegal, said he was happy to tell the partners April 24 that Keen Ice had indeed gotten into the Derby.

"We had confidence it was going to happen," Crawford said. "Still, it's nice when you can send an email to the partners saying it's official."

Crawford said Keen Ice "has looked really good the last three days" at Churchill and is coming into the first leg of the Triple Crown in good order.

"Distance isn't going to be an issue," Crawford said. "He's one of the best-bred horses in the race for stamina. He hasn't run fast enough to win the Derby, but he loves this track. The final eighth of a mile can be a graveyard for some horses, and he'll be closing like a freight train. The question will be whether he left himself with too much to do."