Ice It heats up over jumps

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At Keeneland November in 2012, bloodstock agent Steve Young spent $310,000 to buy a weanling for owner Bob LaPenta. As a son of leading sire Tapit and Grade 2 winner Spice Island, and a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Ice Box, the colt looked the part.

Then he didn’t.

After two dull starts with Graham Motion late in 2014 at Laurel Park, the six-figure weanling was soon a 3-year-old with no future and a significantly smaller pricetag. Jack Fisher bought the Kentucky-bred through former assistant Jonathan Thomas, now at Bridlewood Farm, with the stipulation that Ice It not race on the flat. He made his jump debut a year ago, has won twice in five starts and is the 5-2 favorite in Thursday’s $75,000 William Entenmann novice hurdle stakes at Belmont Park.

“He wasn’t that good on the flat, which was probably kind of a quick decision, but that’s OK,” said Fisher. “They wanted to sell him and I made a deal that if I bought him I wouldn’t run him on the flat. He’s been pretty good.”

After spending a year with Ice It, Fisher hinted at trying to renegotiate the deal with LaPenta before next year’s Kentucky Downs meet, but for now the horse is a jumper – only.

Owned by DASH Stable (Fisher’s wife Sheila and her father Rufus Williams), Ice It won the National Steeplechase Association’s 3-year-old championship with a win and a second last season. He started just as strong this year, winning an allowance hurdle in April at Atlanta and placing second in a novice stakes at the Iroquois in May. Fisher skipped Saratoga, mostly because the novice stakes didn’t fill, and takes the cover off for a fall debut Thursday. Ice It is one of three in the race for Fisher, joining Saratoga winner (and 3-1 second choice) Special Skills  and 20-1 Dye Fore. Sean McDermott, who rode Ice It in all three of his starts last year, gets aboard for the 2 1/4-mile test. Ice it has been first or second in four of his five jump starts, with the only non-exacta finish coming when he stumbled in soft ground and fell at the Colonial Cup in November.

Fisher said the gelding’s chief fall target is the $100,000 Foxbrook at Far Hills Oct. 15, though pretty much every novice hurdler in the country eyes that race.

“He might need a race, and he’s probably better suited to Far Hills than Belmont,” Fisher said of Ice It, “but he’s doing well.”

Saratoga winners Detroit Blues (4-1) and Hardrock Eleven (5-1) also figure to be factors. The former won a $65,000 allowance for Rosbrian Farm and trainer Ricky Hendriks Aug. 17, though McDermott opts for Ice It. Hardrock Eleven finished second to Detroit Blues in that race, but rebounded to win at Saratoga for Gigi Lazenby and trainer Doug Fout Sept. 1. Brendan Crowley takes the return call. Owner Gill Johnston runs three – Suffolk Downs allowance winner Miguel Grau (Willie McCarthy, 12-1), Dye Fore (Alice Mills, 20-1) and Share Out (Jack Doyle, 6-1). Aquies (Gerard Galligan, 15-1) completes the group for Irv Naylor and Kathy Neilson.

The Entenmann is run in memory of Bill Entenmann, whose family started the bakery, and who co-owned Artie Schiller and bred 2002 Belmont Stakes winner Sarava. Entenmann campaigned steeplechase and flat horses under the name Timber Bay Farm.