Ice Box, the Kentucky Derby runner-up and probable favorite for the $1 million Belmont Stakes, worked four furlongs in 49.65 seconds on Tuesday morning over the Saratoga training track. Exercise rider Maxine Correa was aboard for the work, which was the seventh fastest of 22 recorded at the distance.
It was the first timed move for Ice Box since his troubled-trip second to Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby on May 1. Ice Box, who won the Grade 1 Florida Derby in March, did not run in the Preakness.
"He worked very, very well, in hand, I was happy," trainer Nick Zito said from Saratoga.
Zito said skipping the Preakness with Ice Box was the right move, given how hard the horse had to run in the Derby. Ice Box was forced to check and alter course twice in the stretch, yet still came with a flying finish that fell 2 1/2 lengths short of Super Saver.
"With 20 horses, with all the hoopla, all the festivities all the drama, the training leading up to it, the bumping that goes on in the race, it takes its toll," Zito said. "You've got to have a special horse."
Zito said Ice Box would likely have one more work late next week as his final prep for the Belmont. Zito's other Belmont starter, Fly Down, who won the Dwyer, will likely work Saturday and have two works before the Belmont.
Meanwhile, Zito said that Jackson Bend, the third-place finisher in the Preakness, would be pointed to summer races like the Haskell on Aug. 1 at Monmouth Park. Jackson Bend finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby.
"The horse runs his guts out," Zito said. "And he wants to run again if you can believe it."