July 23, 2024

Palace Malice rules in Belmont

Last updated: 6/8/13 9:14 PM

Palace Malice earned just
his second career victory when taking the Belmont Stakes

(Harold Roth/Horsephotos.com)

Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice earned his first stakes win in style on
Saturday when holding off the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners to take the
145th running of the $1 million
Belmont Stakes under jockey Mike Smith
by 3 1/4 lengths. The bay colt
actually scored just his second victory, following a 3 1/2-length maiden win at
Saratoga last August, for trainer Todd Pletcher when finishing 1 1/2 miles on
the fast main track in 2:30 3/5.

“It’s the mother of all great moments, I’ll tell you that,” Dogwood Stable’s
Cot Campbell enthused. “I’m
proud for Dogwood and for my great partners…and I’m proud for Aiken S.C….they’ll
be dancing in the streets, so proud. And I’m proud of Todd, one of the greatest
trainers of all time, and Mike Smith, one of the great riders.

“And for the
horse! The horse, the horse, I’m SO proud of him!

“I said before, if he has an absence of bad luck, we’ll be all right. We’re
not asking for any breaks, we just don’t want any breaks against us. When I saw
the :46 go up there, I was kind of hoping for :48, but gosh he seemed to be
going great and Mike went to school on him last time, knew what to do.

“This victory is way up there, because I’m in the twilight of my career,
certainly, to put it euphemistically, and it ranks way up there. It’s a heck of
a thing. It means everything, the tradition of it. I’ve been in racing a long
time and this is good stuff right here.”

“It’s just incredible. I feel like I’m floating, man. I’m just in awe right
now,” Smith grinned. “The game plan was mapped out, and it really went to the
game plan. We were laying third on the outside of Oxbow, like we wanted. At the
three-eighths, Gary (Stevens on Oxbow) said, ‘Go on, little brother. You’re
moving better than me.’ And we went on with it, man.”

Palace Malice skipped the Preakness after a tiring 12th-place finish as the
early pacesetter in the Kentucky Derby. The bay sophomore sported blinkers for
the first time in the Run for the Roses, but they were absent from his equipment
for the Belmont.

Trainer Todd Pletcher hefted the Belmont trophy with jockey Mike Smith and owner Cot Campbell cheering him on

(Lauren Pomeroy/Horsephotos.com)

“It was the blinkers (that made him keen in the Kentucky Derby),” Smith
stated. “(Taking them off) made all of the difference. Three jumps out of the
gate, I felt really good.”

Giving his sire, Curlin, a classic winner from his first crop to race, Palace
Malice returned $29.60, $11.20 and $6.70 at 13-1.

“I kept saying I know there’s a big (race) there; I felt like he had a big one in
him,” Pletcher said. “I kept waiting for it to materialize in the afternoon. He got close a
couple of times but didn’t quite get it done.

“It pretty much went in the early part the way we anticipated it would in
terms of where we were positioned. He was able to get him in a nice comfortable
rhythm and travel along, pretty quickly, considering the distance, but he looked
like he was in a good comfortable rhythm and that was the main focus.

“It was an emotional win for me because the Dogwood connection,” he
added. “They supported
me from the very beginning and to win a big race for them is really gratifying.”

The early pace was quick for the marathon event, with Frac Daddy and Freedom
Child duking it out on the front end through splits of :23 and :46 3/5. The pace
took its toll on Frac Daddy, who began backing up as Preakness hero Oxbow moved
up to challenge Freedom Child on the lead through three-quarters in 1:10 4/5.

Palace Malice, meanwhile, was keeping in contact with the top pair and began
his run rounding the turn after a mile in 1:36 2/5. Freedom Child had dropped
out of it by this point, leaving Oxbow to try for a second straight classic
victory, but Palace Malice kept motoring to pass that one in the lane and trudge
home a winner.

“I’m so proud of this colt. I thought I was dead midway down the backside. They
were suicidal fractions and he never got any break,” jockey Gary Stevens said of
Oxbow. “Mike (Smith) rode a superb
race. I got him settled going into the first turn for about five jumps. I
believe it was Mike who put a tad of pressure on my colt to get him running. I
kind of had to turn his head loose and let him go about his business. I didn’t
want to fight with him. We were rocking down the backside. I looked at the two
horses inside of me and they weren’t going to give it up. I just tried to make
Oxbow as happy as I could.

Palace Malice ran past Oxbow
(right) to take command in the Belmont lane

(Lauren Pomeroy/Horsephotos.com)

“Midway around the turn, I said, ‘Well, maybe.’ But I
have ridden long enough to know that he was going to walk home the last quarter
of a mile. Going into the far turn, I didn’t think he would have hit the board.
To finish second, I am really surprised. He galloped out after the race like you
wouldn’t believe. I’m really proud of him.”

Oxbow got the best of Kentucky Derby victor Orb by 1 3/4 lengths, with Incognito taking fourth
by a half-length over Revolutionary on the wire.

“He just ran OK,” remarked Shug McGaughey, who trains Orb. “He made a
good run around the turn, but we had given up so much. The speed horses held all
up front and we just couldn’t catch them.

“I don’t think he got tired. He put a pretty good run in to get to where he
was, and those horses just weren’t coming back. If they had come back, we’d have
been fine. They shook loose and we were just too far back to catch them.

“It’s been fun,” he added about his Triple Crown run with the Derby
winner. “I’ve got no problems with anything.
Everything’s fine with me. I just wish we had showed a little better
performances in the Preakness and the Belmont.”

“I thought I had a perfect trip,” mused Orb’s jockey, Joel Rosario. “I saw
they were going pretty quick up front, and he was handling everything fine. I
moved him to the outside like he’s done before, but in the end I couldn’t even
make it up to second.

“At a mile and a half, they are all going to get a little tired, but he was
starting to get late. I felt when he was moving, I was pretty confident like in
the Kentucky Derby, but maybe it was the mile and a half, or maybe he was just

Five of the last eight Belmont winners have now recorded their first stakes scores in the ‘Test of the Champion’

(Matt Wooley/EquiSport Photos)

Unlimited Budget, Overanalyze, Vyjack, Golden
Soul, Will Take Charge, Giant Finish, Midnight Taboo, Freedom Child and Frac
Daddy completed the order of finish.

Palace Malice opened his career with a second going five furlongs at Belmont
last July and broke his maiden next out on August 4 at Saratoga. Pletcher put
the Kentucky-bred on the shelf for the rest of the year, saddling him for a
runner-up finish against optional claiming rivals in his January 19 sophomore
bow. The bay made his stakes bow in the Risen Star, just missing in third by a
half-length, and suffered his first off-the-board effort when seventh in the
Louisiana Derby on March 30.

Palace Malice rebounded in his next start, just missing by a neck in the Blue
Grass Stakes at Keeneland, and then lined up in the Kentucky Derby. With
Saturday’s win, he now boasts a 2-3-1 mark from eight career starts.

Bred by W. S. Farish, Palace Malice has more than earned back his purchase
price having now banked $871,135 lifetime. He sold for $25,000 as a Keeneland
September yearling prior to coming to Dogwood as a $200,000 Keeneland April

Palace Malice is the first stakes winner out of the stakes-winning Royal
Anthem mare Palace Rumor, who is a half-sister to multiple stakes scorers Maya’s
Storm and Jumpifyoudare. His third dam is actually the granddam of Grade 1
victor Rail Trip, and farther back this family has also produced English
champion sprinter Flirting Around.

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