A slow start compromised Golden Pal‘s chances at victory in the King’s Stand (G1) at Royal Ascot in June, and nearly did so again in Friday’s $300,000 Troy S. (G3) at Saratoga, which the colt was heavily favored to win at 3-10.
“He moved a step right when they opened the gates. When they opened the gate he was moving at the same time and they (outbroke) me,” jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said. “They were in front of me and that’s not his style. He’s always in front of everyone the first couple of jumps.”
Forced to rally from off the pace for the first time in nine U.S. appearances, Golden Pal had to rely on class to prevail by a short head over pacesetter True Valour in a swift 1:00.92 for 5 1/2 furlongs over the form Mellon turf.
A neck behind was the fast-closing, 30-1 outsider Thin White Duke, who might have made the finish even more interesting with some extra yardage. The order of finish was rounded out by Arzak, Yes and Yes, Spycraft, and Carotari.
Owned by Westerberg Limited and Coolmore, Golden Pal returned $2.60.
“I’m glad he showed a little versatility today,” trainer Wesley Ward said. “When you get to the Breeders’ Cup there’s so many fast horses – 14 of them in the race – and you just want to be able to be tactical and not have to be in front. I think we showed that today.”
This was the seventh win for Golden Pal. In addition to two Breeders’ Cup wins, in the 2020 Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) at Keeneland and 2021 Turf Sprint (G1) at Del Mar, his other stakes triumphs include the 2020 Skidmore S. and 2021 Quick Call (G3), both at Saratoga, and the 2021 Woodford (G2) and April 9 Shakertown (G2), both at Keeneland.
Although second in the Norfolk (G2) at the 2020 Royal Ascot meet, Golden Pal’s two unplaced finishes occurred in subsequent trips to England. He was seventh in the 2021 Nunthorpe (G1) at York and last of 16 in the aforementioned King’s Stand.
Ward said connections might consider a race on dirt for Golden Pal’s next start, possibly the Oct. 7 Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland. Golden Pal finished second in his only prior appearance on dirt, in his debut at Gulfstream Park in April 2020.
Bred in Florida by Randall Lowe, Golden Pal is by Uncle Mo and out of fleet turf sprinter Lady Shipman, by Midshipman. He’s bankrolled $1,638,431.