Later this month, Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice will have a totally new experience.
The winner of the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes will take on older horses, in the 1¼-mile, $1 million, Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Sept. 28.
The 3-year-old colt has distinguished himself with victories in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes and the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes. However, a victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup would be of great benefit to the connections of the winning horse – it’s a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In race, meaning the victor doesn’t have to pay the entrance fee to the races to be run at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 1 and Nov 2. The race will also play a prominent role as to whether Palace Malice or Orb is the leading 3-year-old male.
“We would like to be the 3-year-old champ, and we’d like to win races,” said W. Cot Campbell, Dogwood Stable president. “This will be the first time he’ll face older horses. He’ll get a weight break of four pounds. The older horses will carry 126 pounds, and he’ll carry 122. It’s also a race that if you were to win, it would eliminate the need to pay an entrance fee to the Breeders’ Cup, which is $100,000. That’s a nice incentive. He’s had a wonderful year.”
However, there are some positive and negative variables associated with running in the Jockey Club Gold Cup as opposed to being entered in the $1 million, Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing, a contest designated specifically for 3-year-olds.
“The pluses are that the Jockey Club Gold Cup is at Belmont Park, and that we know that he likes the racetrack,” said Campbell. “The race is one-mile and-a-quarter, and we know that he likes the distance. He doesn’t have to ship because he’s home. All that he has to do is walk over and run. The disadvantage is that he’ll be running against older horses, and there’s some tough ones out there. It’s the fall of the year, so he should be able to cope against older horses. So, that’s what we’re going to do. It’s an invitational race, and the invitations will be going out on Sept. 14.”
Palace Malice’s fourth-place finish in his last start, the 144th running of the Travers Stakes, wasn’t indicative of his ability – a stumble at the race’s start, being carried inward by a rival and a painfully slow pace were all variables that worked against the multiple stakes winner.
“It’s frustrating if you dwell on it.” said Campbell. “But, he could have won the Travers, and should have won the Travers, but he didn’t.”
After the Breeders’ Cup, Palace Malice will return to a place he spent part of the spring and summer in 2012, a stall at Legacy Stable at the Aiken Training Track.
“We’ll keep him here, for a couple of months, and train him every other day,” said Campbell. “We’ll let him relax, although he certainly doesn’t indicate a need for relaxation at this time.”
The Jockey Club Gold Cup should serve as a prelude to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and will feature one of the year’s best fields, with a number of the nation’s outstanding handicap horses. However, it’s the rematch between Palace Malice, and the Kentucky Derby winner Orb, that may have the most important ramifications.
“I would love for him to beat Orb decisively, and if he does, I think you could make a strong case for him being 3-year-old champion,” said Campbell. “I think Orb has the edge right now, but if we were to finish decisively ahead of him, I think that would give us an edge. Maybe both horses will go to the Breeders’ Cup, and fight it out there.”
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