Long shot Ruler on Ice wins the Belmont Stakes

Ruler On Ice, with jockey Jose Valdivia Jr., sprints to the finish line ahead of Stay Thirsty (2) to win the Belmont Stakes horse race Saturday, June 11, 2011, at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. 2011 Preakness Stakes 2011 Kentucky Derby AP Photo/Tim Donnelly

NEW YORK -- The Kentucky Derby winner stumbled at the start. The Preakness winner tired in the stretch. The Belmont Stakes was up for grabs.

And it was 24-1 long shot Ruler on Ice who delivered a huge upset Saturday in the final leg of the Triple Crown, splashing his way to a three-quarter length victory over Stay Thirsty.

As expected, Shackleford led from the start but when the field of 12 turned for home in the 1½-mile Belmont, he tired in the muck as long shots Stay Thirsty and Ruler On Ice passed him by.

"Ruler wasn't slowing down," winning jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. said. "It was a great feeling the last sixteenth of a mile."

The much-hyped rubber match between Shackleford and Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom never developed on a rainy day at Belmont Park. Shackleford finished fifth, while Animal Kingdom got off to a terrible start, never moved into contention and finished sixth.

Jockey John Velazquez nearly fell off when Animal Kingdom collided with Monzon just after the start. He somehow managed to get his left foot back into the stirrup, but by then it was too late. Animal Kingdom had dropped more than 12 lengths off the lead, and did well to finish in the middle of the pack.

An elated Valdivia, riding in his first Belmont, described the final seconds of the race while still on his horse.

Photos: The 2011 Belmont Stakes

"I'm a couple of yards from the wire and I'm thinking, `Oh my god, oh my god, I'm going to win the Belmont,"' he said.

A crowd of 55,779 turned out hoping to see a stretch showdown between Animal Kingdom and Shackleford. But that vanished once the Derby winner was knocked out of contention in a bad bit of racing luck.

The Belmont has a history of surprise finishes, from spoiled Triple Crown attempts to stunning shockers. Only two favorites have won since Thunder Gulch in 1995, and long shots have been the norm. Last year, it was 13-1 Drosselmeyer, two years ago Summer Bird at 11-1, and three years ago Da' Tara at 38-1.

Birdstone spoiled Smarty Jones' bid for a Triple Crown in 2004 at odds of 36-1 and Sarava ended War Emblem's Triple try in 2002 at 70-1 odds.

The win left Lori Hall, who owns Ruler On Ice with her husband George, shaking.

"It was amazing, because we really were the underdog," she said.

Ruler On Ice's victory makes it three years in a row a different horse has won each of the Triple Crown races, and next year it will be a 33-year gap since Affirmed swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1978.

Ruler On Ice, trained by New Jersey-based Kelly Breen, did not run in the first two legs of the Triple Crown. The 3-year-old gelding didn't have enough graded stakes earnings to qualify for the Derby, but vindicated his trainer's faith by defeating a field that included the first seven finishers in the Run for the Roses.

The winning time for the oldest and longest race in the Triple Crown was a slow 2:30.88.

Ruler On Ice, a temperamental sort fitted with blinkers for the first time to keep him focused, returned $51.50, $26 and $13.60. Stay Thirsty, owner Mike Repole's second-best 3-year-old behind the sidelined Uncle Mo, paid $19.40 and $10.80. Brilliant Speed was third and returned $7.90 to show.

Nehro, second in his last three races, including the Derby, was fourth, followed by Shackleford, Animal Kingdom, Mucho Macho Man, Santiva, Monzon, Master of Hounds, Prime Cut and Isn't He Perfect.


List of winners of the Belmont Stakes -

2011-Ruler On Ice

2010-Drosselmeyer

2009-Summer Bird

2008-Da' Tara

2007-Rags to Riches

2006-Jazil

2005-Afleet Alex

2004-Birdstone

2003-Empire Maker

2002-Sarava

2001-Point Given

2000-Commendable

1999-Lemon Drop Kid

1998-Victory Gallop

1997-Touch Gold

1996-Editor's Note

1995-Thunder Gulch

1994-Tabasco Cat

1993-Colonial Affair

1992-A.P. Indy

1991-Hansel

1990-Go and Go

1989-Easy Goer

1988-Risen Star

1987-Bet Twice

1986-Danzig Connection

1985-Creme Fraiche

1984-Swale

1983-Caveat

1982-Conquistador Cielo

1981-Summing

1980-Temperance Hill

1979-Coastal

1978-Affirmed

1977-Seattle Slew

1976-Bold Forbes

1975-Avatar

1974-Little Current

1973-Secretariat

1972-Riva Ridge

1971-Pass Catcher

1970-High Echelon

1969-Arts And Letters

1968-Stage Door Johnny

1967-Damascus

1966-Amberoid

1965-Hail To All

1964-Quadrangle

1963-Chateaugay

1962-Jaipur

1961-Sherluck

1960-Celtic Ash

1959-Sword Dancer

1958-Cavan

1957-Gallant Man

1956-Needles

1955-Nashua

1954-High Gun

1953-Native Dancer

1952-One Count

1951-Counterpoint

1950-Middleground

1949-Capot

1948-Citation

1947-Phalanx

1946-Assault

1945-Pavot

1944-Bounding Home

1943-Count Fleet

1942-Shut Out

1941-Whirlaway

1940-Bimelech

1939-Johnstown

1938-Pasteurized

1937-War Admiral

1936-Granville

1935-Omaha

1934-Peace Chance

1933-Hurryoff

1932-Faireno

1931-Twenty Grand

1930-Gallant Fox

1929-Blue Larkspur

1928-Vito

1927-Chance Shot

1926-Crusader

1925-American Flag

1924-Mad Play

1923-Zev

1922-Pillory

1921-Grey Lag

1920-Man o' War

1919-Sir Barton

1918-Johren

1917-Hourless

1916-Friar Rock

1915-The Finn

1914-Luke McLuke

1913-Prince Eugene

1912-Not held.

1911-Not held.

1910-Sweep

1909-Joe Madden

1908-Colin

1907-Peter Pan

1906-Burgomaster

1905-Tanya

1904-Delhi

1903-Africander

1902-Masterman

1901-Commando

1900-Ildrum

1899-Jean Bereaud

1898-Bowling Brook

1897-Scottish Chieftain

1896-Hastings

1895-Belmar

1894-Henry of Navarre

1893-Comanche

1892-Patron

1891-Foxford

1890-Burlington

1889-Eric

1888-Sir Dixon

1887-Hanover

1886-Inspector B.

1885-Tyrant

1884-Panique

1883-George Kinney

1882-Forester

1881-Saunterer

1880-Grenada

1879-Spendthrift

1878-Duke of Magenta

1877-Cloverbrook

1876-Algerine

1875-Calvin

1874-Saxon

1873-Springbok

1872-Joe Daniels

1871-Harry Bassett

1870-Kingfisher

1869-Fenian

1868-General Duke

1867-Ruthless

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