George and Lori Hall of Rumson, N.J., struck paydirt with Ruler On Ice, the 25-1 longshot winner of the $1 million Belmont Stakes-G1; Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom finished sixth after a disastrous start; Preakness winner Shackleford tired to finish fifth.
Based in New Jersey with trainer Kelly Breen, the chestnut gelding by Roman Ruler, a $100,000 yearling sales purchase, was second in Pimlico’s Federico Tesio Stakes in his previous start.
The Halls had purchased their first horse only seven years earlier. Their powerful stable included another high-profile 3-year-old, homebred Pants On Fire (by Jump Start), winner of the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park one week after the Belmont.
Ruler On Ice raced through May 2014, earned $1,709,566 and won only one stakes in his 23 starts. Pants On Fire raced for the Halls through September 2015 when he captured Charles Town’s Wild and Wonderful for his eighth stakes win. From 34 starts in the U.S. he won or placed 24 times, hit the board in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile-G1, and earned $1,641,375. In 2018, he appeared in the entries in Saudi Arabia – at age 10 and 11 he made six starts in that country and never hit the board.
- The Stronach Group regained sole ownership of the Maryland Jockey Club after acquiring MI Developments’ racing and gaming assets, as well as the stake controlled by Penn National Gaming. “We are fully committed to ensuring the success and profitability of our strong portfolio of racing and gaming operations,” said Belinda Stronach, president and CEO of The Stronach Group.
“We also look forward to working with the horse racing industry and all of its stakeholders to ensure the long-term success and viability of the industry.”
- Family, friends and associates recalled the incomparable editor, writer and “elan vital” of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, Lucy Acton, who lost her battle with cancer at 63. She officially resigned from the magazine June 1 and died six days later.
- Fox Hill Farm’s two-time Grade 1 winner Havre de Grace remained perfect in three starts for the year when taking Delaware Park’s Obeah Stakes-G3. The millionaire daughter of Saint Liam maintained her position at the top of the NTRA’s racehorse rankings. Owner Rick Porter was thrilled with the 4-year-old filly’s most recent score: “Gabriel [Saez] gave her a hand ride throughout. It was a piece of beauty.”
- Maryland’s pillar sire Two Punch was humanely destroyed at age 28. The son of Mr. Prospector was buried at Northview Stallion Station, the former Windfields Farm, in Chesapeake City.
Maryland’s Stallion of the Year three times, Two Punch was the sire of 56 stakes winners at the time of his death, including 1997 Eclipse Award-winning sprinter and successful sire Smoke Glacken. His most recent stakes winner, Bold Affair, won the $200,000 Jostle Stakes at Parx two weeks earlier.
- The late Edward P. “Ned” Evans was represented as the breeder of yet another Grade 1 winner when Buster’s Ready galloped home a 4 1⁄4-length winner in Belmont Park’s Mother Goose Stakes. In her previous start she was second to Royal Delta in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes-G2 at Pimlico. The filly would be part of the Spring Hill Farm dispersal to sell at Keeneland in November.
Wertheimer et Frere bought her for $2.4 million, which equaled the fourth highest price of the dispersal. She was one of 12 Spring Hill fillies or mares to bring $1 million or more.