Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Belmont Stakes: Palace Malice impresses Pletcher with work
ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Todd Pletcher’s prospective list of Belmont Stakes starters went from six to five Monday, but he certainly couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about the way at least two of them worked on a glorious spring morning at Belmont Park.
Palace Malice put in a strong five-furlong workout in 1:00.24 with a sensational gallop-out that not only upgraded his Belmont chances but ended the Belmont plans of Micromanage, who couldn’t keep up with Palace Malice and was withdrawn from consideration by owner Mike Repole.
Repole still has three horses he is considering for the Belmont, including Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze, the filly Unlimited Budget and the lightly raced Midnight Taboo, all of whom worked Monday.
“Right now, I’d say Overanalyze, if everything stays sound, is 100 percent, Unlimited Budget, 75 percent, and Midnight Taboo, 60 percent,” Repole said.
Meanwhile, Revolutionary, the third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby for WinStar Farm, pleased Pletcher with a very good half-mile move and a solid half-mile gallop-out that showed that his fitness level remains high.
Pletcher’s brigade, plus works by Peter Pan winner Freedom Child in New York and Giant Finish in Maryland, topped a busy day on the Belmont Stakes front.
Though he did not work, Kentucky Derby winner Orb continues to impress his trainer, Shug McGaughey, who said Monday morning he sees “no reason not to” run in the Belmont. Orb, fourth in the Preakness, is scheduled to work Sunday here.
Monday, however, was dominated by the Pletcher contingent.
Revolutionary, the winner of the Louisiana Derby before his third in the Kentucky Derby, was out shortly after 6 a.m. Reunited with Javier Castellano, who chose to ride Normandy Invasion in the Kentucky Derby, Revolutionary worked in company with the debut-winning 3-year-old Oldwick.
Revolutionary, on the outside, began the move about a half-length behind Oldwick and finished a neck in front, getting his final quarter in 24.15 seconds. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.77, six furlongs in 1:14.12, seven furlongs in 1:27.23, and a mile in 1:41.08.
“I was really happy with the way he went this morning, the way he galloped out, the way he cooled out; he wasn’t tired at all,” Pletcher said. “I think he’s maintained his fitness really, really well.”
It was Castellano’s first time on Revolutionary since the March 30 Louisiana Derby, and he said he noticed a difference in the colt.
“Before, he was more in the bridle; now he’s more settled,” Castellano said. “I think he grew up a little bit.”
Pletcher brought out an army of horses to work following the renovation break, sending out three pairs of workers in rapid-fire succession.
Palace Malice, with Anne Finney up, and Micromanage, with Rajiv Maragh, were first. Though the two were scheduled to break off together, Palace Malice left the pole two lengths in front, going in splits of 12.56 and 24.91 for the opening quarter. After going three furlongs in 36.18, Palace Malice came home in 24.06. But he wasn’t done. While Daily Racing Form had him galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.26, Pletcher caught him out seven furlongs in 1:24.60 and a mile in 1:38.60.
“To me, it was a monstrous gallop-out, as good as you’ll ever see a horse gallop out,” Pletcher said.
Palace Malice finished a troubled seventh in the Louisiana Derby and then came back with a solid second in the Blue Grass to earn his way into the Kentucky Derby. Equipped with blinkers for the first time, Palace Malice ran off early in the Kentucky Derby with Mike Smith, setting a blistering pace before eventually finishing 12th. Pletcher will take the blinkers off for the Belmont.
Pletcher believes Palace Malice, a son of 2007 Belmont runner-up Curlin, has the pedigree and talent to be a factor in the Belmont, saying, “He’s good enough to pull one of these off.”
In 2007, Curlin was beaten a head by the Pletcher-trained filly Rags to Riches, a feat Pletcher still calls his “favorite win of all time.”
On Monday, the filly Unlimited Budget, under exercise rider Patti Krotenko, worked five furlongs in 1:00.49 with the lightly raced Midnight Taboo, who appeared to be going the easier of the two under Castellano.
While Pletcher said Rags to Riches “was truly bred to win the Belmont … I got to think it through a little more with Unlimited Budget. I think the Street Sense part of the pedigree is strong. The bottom side doesn’t maybe carry her quite as far. We’ll have to see how she continues to do.”
Midnight Taboo is only 1 for 3 in his career, but Pletcher sees the horse rapidly improving.
“You can see him getting better and better every work, every race,” Pletcher said. “His last race may be better than it looks on paper. He got bottled up inside the whole way. I think he ran a winning race; he just finished second.”
In between those sets, Overanalyze, the Arkansas Derby winner, worked five furlongs in 1:00.63 in company with the 7-year-old Caixa Eletronica. Overanalyze, with John Velazquez up, had to be asked to keep up with Caixa Eletronica, who wouldn’t let Overanalyze past him at the wire.
“I thought it was a typical work from him,” Pletcher said of Overanalyze. “He’s not an overzealous work horse. You got to encourage him a little bit. When Johnny encouraged him, he did respond welI.”
While Castellano will ride Revolutionary and Smith will ride Palace Malice, the riding assignments were not firmed up on the three Repole-owned horses. Pletcher said he has Velazquez and Garrett Gomez to ride and is waiting to see what happens with Rosie Napravnik, who would ride Code West if he runs. Trainer Bob Baffert said over the weekend he’s considering running Code West in the Belmont but isn’t committed to that plan.
During the middle of the Pletcher parade, Peter Pan winner Freedom Child put in a solid five-furlong workout in 1:00.06 over the main track.
Seemingly just galloping along, Freedom Child went in splits of 12.64, 24.75, and 36.14 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.86.
“If I wasn’t looking at my watch, I would never have thought he was traveling that fast down the lane,” said Tom Albertrani, who trains Freedom Child for West Point Thoroughbreds.
At the Fair Hill training center in Maryland, Giant Finish, 10th in the Kentucky Derby, worked a half-mile in 49.20 over the dirt course.
“Very workmanlike, as he usually is,” trainer Tony Dutrow said.
Incognito, fifth in the Peter Pan, worked four furlongs in 50.01 over Belmont’s main track. Though Incognito is not definite, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said the Belmont is a thought because “we think he wants the distance.”