NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kentucky Derby runner-up Ice Box drew perfectly in barrier six for Saturday’s running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown.
Bookmakers immediately installed the Nick Zito-trained Ice Box as the 3-1 pre-race favorite for the mile-and-a-half classic with his chief rival First Dude the second pick at 7-2 after drawing barrier 11 in the 12-horse field.
Ice Box’s stablemate, Fly Down, was listed on the third line of betting at 9-2 after drawing post five while the remaining nine three-year-olds were all at double figure odds for the 142nd running of the Belmont.
Ice Box finished an unlucky second behind Super Saver in last month’s Kentucky Derby after being caught in heavy traffic then flashing home in the mud when it was all too late.
He skipped the Preakness Stakes, won by Lookin At Lucky, but looms as the horse to beat this weekend after connections of both Super Saver and Lookin at Lucky opted to skip the Belmont.
Ice Box easily beat First Dude to win the Florida Derby in March but First Dude has greatly improved since then, fighting on bravely to finish second in the Preakness Stakes after a bold front-running display.
“Ice Box is going to be tough to beat but we think with the extra distance and a little bit of experience we can turn the tables,” First Dude’s trainer Dale Romans said at the draw.
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