Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice punched his ticket to Louisville, Ky., for the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4, after his second place effort, one that saw the bay colt lose by only a neck Saturday in the 1⅛-mile $750,000, Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

The performance provided Palace Malice with enough points, 50, securing his place in the field of Kentucky Derby starters. The 3-year-old colt is currently 13th in the standings. Palace Malice was trained over the Aiken Training Track by Legacy Stable’s Brad Stauffer.

It was Palace Malice’s first start over Keeneland’s Polytrack, but the graded stakes placed runner seemed to adjust to the racing surface without any problems. Palace Malice was sent off as the third choice in the wagering in the field of 14 horses, and after his nightmare trip and seventh place finish in his last start, the 1⅛-mile Grade 2 Lousiana Derby on March 30 at the Fair Grounds, his performance in the Blue Grass Stakes removed any doubts his critics may have had about the Todd Pletcher charge.

The connections of Palace Malice were also faced with the challenge of finding a jockey who was open, and they couldn’t have asked for a better ride on Saturday, as they secured the services of two-time Eclipse Award winning jockey Garrett Gomez, who kept Palace Malice close to the pace, and they made their bid with a half-mile left in the race, coming off the rail, shifting out toward the middle of the track, commandeering the lead, before being run down in deep stretch by the eventual winner Java’s War.

“I thought when he and Gomez hit the front it was all over,” said W. Cothran Campbell, Dogwood Stable president, in a phone interview Saturday evening. “He idled a bit. It was a hell of a race.”

Palace Malice will be Dogwood Stable’s eighth Kentucky Derby starter as the colt joins Summer Squall, 1990; Wallenda, 1993; Smilin’ Singin’ Sam, 1994; Jack Flash, 1997; Impeachment, 2000, Trippi, 2000 and Limehouse, 2004.

“We’ll have to talk to Todd, and see how he comes out of the race,” said Campbell. “We’re anxious to make the trip.”

Palace Malice placed third, beaten a half-length, in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds on Feb. 23.

Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey said on the NBC broadcast. that if he was riding. Palace Malice would be the horse he would want to be on coming into the Kentucky Derby.

Palace Malice increased his lifetime earnings to $271,135.