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Winning the G1 Florida Derby was a huge step up in class for the Pulpit colt Ice Box, yet another classic prospect trained by Nick Zito for owner Robert Lapenta. Previously the winner of a maiden special and a tough-looking N1X allowance, Ice Box has now won three of his last four starts, including the Florida Derby.

That victory was another feather in the war bonnet of top Claiborne Farm sire Pulpit, who has asserted himself as the leading young sire of stallions in the country with leading sire Tapit, as well as the G1 sire Sky Mesa and the promising second-season stallion Corinthian.

The chestnut colt out of the Tabasco Cat mare Spice Island was a September yearling sale acquisition by Lapenta for $125,000. Bred in Kentucky by Dunlea Park Ltd, Ice Box is the second foal of his dam, G2 stakes winner Spice Island.

Ice Box was one of the yearlings Lapenta acquired in 2008 with a goal of pinhooking them the following season. In fact, Lapenta did consign the colt, and Ice Box was cataloged for the 2009 Fasig-Tipton Calder select sale of 2-year-olds in training but never went through the ring, reportedly because the colt didn’t train well over the Calder strip.

That was a sensible decision because 2-year-olds who don’t train don’t sell well. It was a fortunate decision because the handsome colt is now a G1 winner and worth a good chunk of money.

In addition to Ice Box’s classic prospects, Pulpit is part of the reason that Ice Box is now worth more money. Sons of Bignose Benny don’t have a future at stud, even if they win the Kentucky Derby. But sons of proven sires of stallions can find a home, and those such as Ice Box, who win at the premier level, are usually stallion prospects with a premium price tag attached.

If the colt continues to improve with age and distance, which his pedigree suggests might well be the case (his dam became a graded winner at 4, for instance), Ice Box could add further accomplishments to his record, making him that much more desirable as a stallion prospect and more fundamentally proven as a stallion to match with mares.

In addition to his sire and high-class dam, Ice Box comes from a family with plenty of Kentucky Derby connections. His second dam is Crown of Sheba, by Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Alysheba, and Crown of Sheba is a half-sister to 1984 Kentucky Derby winner Spend a Buck.

Both are out of the Speak John mare Belle de Jour. Spend a Buck, who won 10 of his 15 starts and $4.2 million, was the mare’s fifth foal. Crown of Sheba was her 12th and was a winner from three starts. In all, Belle de Jour produced four stakes-placed runners in addition to Spend a Buck, and her best producing daughter is the Danzig mare Jode, dam of the Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Hula Angel (by Woodman) and stakes winner Schedule (Brian’s Time).

This is an old George Widener family tracing back through Spinaway Stakes second Armorial to the imported French mare Tellaris (by Pharis).