Palace Malice returned after a nearly two month break from the races to win the Jim Dandy Stakes on July 27 as a prep for the Travers Stakes next month (PhotoS courtesy NYRA/Coglinese Photos).
By Melissa Bauer-Herzog, @mbauerherzog, America's Best Racing
In his first start back since winning the Belmont Stakes in June, Palace Malice easily found the winner’s circle again on Saturday in the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga.
Following closely behind leader Moreno for much of the 1 1/8-mile race, Palace Malice took command in the final furlong. With jockey Mike Smith aboard, the Curlin colt finished the race in a time of 1:47.37, a length ahead of Will Take Charge with Moreno in third.
"He was better than last time [in the Belmont]," said Smith. "Those are kind of big words to say after winning the Belmont, but he truly was, and with room to grow. The last sixteenth of a mile he was well within himself. He was searching for more ground, if I needed it. I think he'll get every inch of [the Travers'] mile and a quarter, I really do."
Trained by Todd Pletcher for Dogwood Stable, Palace Malice registered his third victory in nine starts going off as the 1.35-to-1 race favorite. The race followed the plan trainer Todd Pletcher, who has won the Jim Dandy six times, has for Palace Malice leading up to the Travers Stakes on Aug. 24.
"He relaxed nicely and finished up pretty well in a very, very good time," Pletcher, said. "We got the race over the track. The horse keeps getting better and better and today was arguably his best performance yet. Hopefully, on to the Travers."
After selling for $25,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2011, he was bought for $200,000 at the 2012 Keeneland sale of 2-year-olds in training by Dogwood Stable’s Cot Campbell. Before today’s race, the colt had paid Dogwood back in dividends with more than $870,000 in earnings.
For an Equibase chart, click here.
PALACE MALICE AND MIKE SMITH WIN THE 2013 JIM DANDY STAKES