Palace Malace pulls away to win Belmont

Palace Malace pulls away to win Belmont

It was billed as a showdown between the winners of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, a chance to declare once and for all who is the best 3-year-old horse this year. 

Instead, it was Palace Malace, not Orb or Oxbow, winning the 145th Belmont Stakes in front of a crowd of 47,562 Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 13-1 underdog finished 3 ¼-lenghts ahead of Preakness winner Oxbow with Derby winner Orb taking third. 

The victory was especially sweet for Pletcher, who was confident Palace Malace was due for a big race despite the colt’s 12th place finish in the Kentucky Derby and just one win in seven starts. 

“It’s huge, it’s huge,” Pletcher said after the race. “We always felt like he had a big one in him. We were just waiting for it to finally develop. I told [owner Cot] Campbell this horse is training unbelievable. I know he’s got a big run, we just need to put it all together.”

Pletcher was especially encouraged because Palace Malace, the son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, had great workouts leading up to the final leg of the Triple Crown. And then when the race started with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith aboard, Palace Malace was much calmer than at Churchill Downs. This time, he ran without blinkers. 

“I think the real key was he was relaxed,” Pletcher said. “It was actually I thought for a Belmont a pretty keenly run first part of the race, but the main thing was Mike was able to get him into a real comfortable rhythm. The horse has trained really impressively and we just felt if we could get him into a rhythm and get him relaxed, it wouldn’t necessarily matter if he was on the lead, fourth, fifth, wherever he was as long as Mike had him in that big gallop that he has.”

“It seemed like every 10 strides he would just fill up with air again and he’d get into a beautiful rhythm,” said Smith, who also won the 2010 Belmont with Drosselmeyer. “All along Todd always told me he’s got it in him. He wrote up the perfect game plan. I talked to Todd two days ago and it ran just like he wrote it. I was just happy to be a part of it.”

For Pletcher, who had a record five horses in the mile-and-half race, it was his second Belmont win. The first was in 2007 with filly Rags to Riches. He tried to win it again with another filly this year, but Unlimited Budget finished sixth. 

Unlimited Budget was one of three horses owned by Nassau County resident Mike Repole. Overanalyze was seventh and Midnight Taboo finished 12th in the 14-horse field.

With three different winners of Triple Crown races, who is the top 3-year-old this year? 

“I don’t think there’s a clear-cut leader,” Pletcher said. “I’d say it’s still wide open. It will largely depend on what happens in the fall of the year.”

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here