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Keen Ice

Keen Ice

Five-year-old Keen Ice doesn't win often — but when he does, he sure makes it count.

He's best known for being the only horse to beat American Pharoah during his three-year-old season in 2015 — the year American Pharoah became the first horse to win the elusive Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978. Keen Ice, sent off at 16-1, unleashed a furious late run to beat him in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga. American Pharoah went on to a huge win in the Breeders' Cup Classic that year at Keeneland and to Horse of the Year honors.

Keen Ice's second graded stakes win came this June, when he rolled to an upset in the Suburban Handicap at Belmont, defeating heavily-favored Shaman Ghost. That was just his third lifetime win in 22 starts, but he's earned over $3 million in his career.

The son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin has also picked up some big checks in some of the sport's most valuable races. During his 3-year-old season, he was second in the Haskell at Monmouth, third in the Belmont Stakes and fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic. He improved that Classic finish position at four, running third at Santa Anita.

The Suburban victory came in his third start of this year. He ran fourth in the world's richest race, the $12 million Pegasus Invitational at Gulfstream (held for the first time this year), and was unplaced in the Dubai World Cup half a world away.

Donegal Racing paid $120,000 to purchase Keen Ice at the 2013 Keeneland September Yearling sale. The storied Calumet Farm in Lexington bought into him this year, and Keen Ice will start his stallion duties there when he retires from the racetrack.

Jerry Crawford founded Donegal Racing, which operates many racing partnerships, in 2008. An avid racing fan, Crawford developed an algorithm to try to pick classic winners to wager on. When that worked, he decided to see if would be just as effective in picking out racing prospects.

“In 2008, I thought, ‘I am going to go to Kentucky, I’m going to buy a horse that fits my formula and see what happens,’” Crawford told Jessica Martini in a September, 2015 Thoroughbred Daily News article.

“I’d bought horses before,” Crawford said. “I wasn’t a stranger to the business, but it was the first time I tried to use the algorithm that we’d created to buy a horse. And in September of 2008, the stock market collapsed and the first thing people stopped doing was buying horses. So, having been prepared to spend $250,000 to buy one horse, I spent $410,000 on eight. Then I was flying home trying to figure out how I was going to avoid paying alimony after I told my wife Linda that I’d bought eight horses. My buddies had always said, ‘Go buy horses and we’ll be partners.’ And that’s how Donegal racing got started–that year that I bought eight horses, not quite by accident.”

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