The Belmont Stakes did it again. The Triple Crown Series' most taxing run shocked racing fans and spoiled a much hyped duel between Animal Kingdom and Shackleford as the lightly regarded Ruler On Ice cruised to victory on a sloppy track (2:30.88). The Roman Ruler sired gelding paid big for those willing to take a gamble, returning $51.50 for every $2.00 win bet. Sports Betting Odds had Ruler On Ice listed anywhere from +3000 to +1800 moneyline odds prior to yesterday's race.
Animal Kingdom's chance at Belmont glory lasted only a few seconds as the Derby winner collided with Mucho Macho Man shortly after the start. The favored colt fell to the rear following the brief scrap and never fully recovered.
Animal Kingdom made his way to the middle of the pack by the end of the 1 1/2 miles grind, finishing sixth, but the horrible break rained disappointment on the horse's many backers.
Preakness winner Shackleford overcame a bad Post 12 draw, clearing the field early to set a moderate pace; however, as suspected, the colt lacked the stamina to hold on to the lead. With just under three furlongs left in the race, Shackleford fell behind the most unlikely of trios, Ruler On Ice, Stay Thirsty, and Brillaint Speed. Dale Romans' colt went on to finish fifth, holding off Animal Kingdom, once again, in the process.
Once clear of Shackleford, Ruler On Ice pushed ahead of the other two long-shot challengers to record his first win since breaking his maiden last October. The victory also marked the horse's first triumph in a graded stakes race.
According to trainer Kelly Breen, the Belmont served as a wake-up call for the late bloomer.
"This week, he had the best blood report he's had in the past few months, so I said, 'It's a go'," Breen said. "He didn't mature as fast as we wanted to. He's already a gelding so we can't castrate him again, so we put blinkers on. The first time out of the gate, Jose (jockey Jose Valdivia Jr.) was on him. He was still goofing off and didn't break great. Last week, he broke right and it's like sometimes, the bulb just goes on. It was a perfect storm of things going right, and that's how we got here."
2011 Belmont Stakes Results Payout: All totals reflect the return on a $2.00 wager
1. Ruler On Ice (Post 3) $51.50 (Win), $26.00 (Place), $13.60 (Show) Exacta 3-2 $928
2. Stay Thirsty (Post 2) $19.40 (Place), $10.80 (Show) Trifecta 3-2-5 $9,268
3. Brilliant Speed (Post 5) $7.90 (Show) Superfecta 3-2-5-6 $74,052
4. Nehro (Post 6)
5. Shackleford (Post 12)
6. Animal Kingdom (Post 9)
7. Mucho Macho Man (Post 10)
8. Santiva (Post 4)
9. Monzon (Post 7)
10. Master of Hounds (Post 1)
11. Prime Cut (Post 8)
12. Isn't He Perfect (Post 11)