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Ice Box wins Florida Derby

Ice Box, a 20-1 long shot, rallied five-wide entering the stretch yesterday to win the $750,000 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park by a nose over Pleasant Prince, another long shot.

Favorite Rule finished third. Lentenor, a full-brother to ill-fated 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, finished fourth.

Ice Box, trained by two-time, Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito and ridden by Jose Lezcano, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.19. Ice Box returned $43.40, $24.40, $9.60.

Zito must now decide whether to train Ice Box up to the Kentucky Derby or get another race in before the Run for the Roses. Zito, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1991 with Strike the Gold and 1994 with Go for Gin, seemed to be leaning toward training the 3-year-old son of Pulpit up to the Derby.

"It's a possibility," said Zito of running Ice Box before the Kentucky Derby. "You never say never. But this is a tough race.

"Obviously, he's had a tough winter like all these 3-year-olds. He's had three 1 1/8th mile races in a row. You can think about running him back in three weeks, but we have to figure out what we're going to do with him."

Pleasant Prince paid $26.40, $11.60 and Rule returned $3.40.

Ice Box, purchased by Robert LaPenta at auction in 2008 for $150,000, was raced last in the 11-horse field down the backstretch while Rule helped set a :23.21, :46.46 and 1:10.76 pace.


Ljubicic defeats Nadal

Ivan Ljubicic rode his big serve to a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1) victory over defending champion Rafael Nadal and a berth in the BNP Paribas Open final in Indian Wells, Calif.

The Croatian served 17 aces (64 in the tournament) and overcame 51 unforced errors in ending a five-match losing streak against the world's third-ranked player.

Ljubicic will play seventh-seeded Andy Roddick in today's final.

Jelena Jankovic and U.S. Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki will play for the women's title.

Ljubicic upset second-ranked Novak Djokovic in the round of 16 and is in position to win an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time after three runner-up showings, the last in 2006 at Miami.

Nadal was trying to end an 11-tournament title drought. He hasn't won since last May in Rome after being hampered by knee injuries last summer and at the Australian Open.

Nadal appeared unbeatable in the opening set, powering forehands out of Ljubicic's reach. But the lefty's best stroke deserted him at times in the second set, when Ljubicic broke for a 5-4 lead on Nadal's double-fault. The Croatian served out the set and then broke again to open the third.

Roddick tops Soderling

Andy Roddick outlasted Robin Soderling, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, to make the BNP Paribas Open final for the first time.

Roddick had lost in the semifinals three times, including last year to Nadal. No American man has won the singles at Indian Wells since Andre Agassi in 2001.

Roddick and Soderling took turns throwing their rackets in frustration as the momentum swung back and forth. Roddick gained control when he held for 3-all in the third, then broke Soderling en route to winning three of the final four games.

Roddick, the highest-ranked American on the ATP Tour, already has won a title in Brisbane this year. He lost in the San Jose final last month.


Klitschko KOs Chambers

Wladimir Klitschko knocked out Eddie Chambers in the 12th and final round to retain his WBO and IBF heavyweight belts in Düsseldorf, Germany.

The taller, heavier Klitschko dominated the fight and ended it with a left hook 11 seconds before the final bell. The American went down heavily and needed a couple of minutes to recover. The referee never bothered to count.

The 33-year-old Ukrainian improved to 53-3 and scored his 48th KO. Chambers lost for the second time in 37 fights.


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