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Submitted by Noel Michaels on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Palace Malice finally matures with Belmont Stakes win

Three races: three different winners in the Triple Crown series. Saturday was Palace Malice’s turn as he won the 145th edition of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. The son of Curlin made a move coming off the second turn and overtook Oxbow (second), one of the early pace prompters, and went on to win by three-and-a-quarter lengths.

Frac Daddy, Freedom Child and Oxbow broke from the gate and the trio set some wicked early fractions for the mile-and-a-half race. The quarters went in 23.11, 46.66 and 1:10.95 for the first six furlongs. After that, things started slowing down. The mile went in 1:36.47, the mile-and-a-quarter in 2:03.12 and they staggered home in 2:30.70. The final quarter of a mile was 27.60.

But Palace Malice still had enough left to hold off any late charges, which Orb (third), Incognito (fourth) and Revolutionary (fifth) tried to put in.

Kentucky Derby winner Orb was far back in the early going, having only one horse beat at the half-mile mark. He started his run nearing the three-eighths pole but could not sustain it and never was a threat to the top one and Oxbow held him off for second. Incognito passed a tiring Revolutionary in the shadow of the wire to grab fourth.

The filly Unlimited Budget, ridden by Rosie Napravnik, managed sixth.

Palace Malice finish 12th in the Kentucky Derby after blinkers were added and jockey Mike Smith could not get him to switch off after getting the lead. After skipping the Preakness, trainer Todd Pletcher took the blinkers off for the Belmont and Palace Malice was much settled and tracked the early leaders from fourth and fifth throughout most of the race before making his move coming off the second turn.

Palace Malice is owned by Dogwood Stable and it was his first win in stakes company. Palace Malice, sent off at 13-1, returned $29.60 for a $2 win bet, and earned $600,000 for Dogwood andCot Campbell its 85-year-old president.

Quotes from the connections of the top four finishers:

Todd Pletcher, winning trainer of Palace Malice (No. 12): “It was an emotional win for me because the Dogwood connection. They supported me from the very beginning and to win a big race for them is really gratifying. I kept saying I know there’s a big (race) there; I felt like he had a big one in him. 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.”

Gary Stevens, rider aboard second-place finisher Oxbow: “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. 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. 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.”

Shug McGaughey, trainer of third-place finisher Orb (No. 5): “He just ran OK. 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.”

“It’s been fun. 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 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.”

“I thought there would be some pace. I was a little concerned because we were pretty far back.”

Joel Rosario, rider aboard third-place finisher Orb (No. 5): “I thought I had a perfect trip. 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 tired.”

Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of fourth-place finisher Incognito (No. 6): “We’re very pleased to finish fourth. I thought he ran a great race and we’re very happy with him.”

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