Inclement weather shouldn’t be a problem.
Dogwood Stable’s president W. Cothran Campbell has great confidence in Palace Malice, and his ability to handle any type of surface. Both Palace Malice and Godolphin Racing’s Incognito will be among the starters for Saturday’s 145th running of the 1½-mile, $1,000,000, Grade 1 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park.
Palace Malice, a son of Curlin, seems to have a penchant for running on an off track, much like his sire. Curlin scored two of his biggest career wins over an off track, victories in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Campbell visited the bay colt Friday afternoon. Palace Malice is one of a record five Belmont Stakes starters being trained by five-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher.
“He was walking with all the other Pletcher stars,” said Campbell, in a phone interview Friday afternoon. “He was relaxed, and his coat was gleaming. He schooled in the paddock.”
Campbell would rather see a sloppy track, rather than one that’s drying out and gummy, but no matter the condition of the racetrack, Palace Malice should make his presence felt in the race.
Palace Malice will race without blinkers Saturday and will break from post position no. 12.
“I have great confidence in his ability to handle any type of racing surface,” said Campbell.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has the return call on Palace Malice, who was trained in Aiken by Legacy Stable’s Brad Stauffer.
“Mike Smith likes the post position,” said Campbell. “He likes to be out there to see how the race is going to unfold, and Palace Malice couldn’t be in better hands. He’s a very enthusiastic horse.”
Godolphin Racing’s Incognito drew post position no. six, and will have the services of jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. The son of the 1992 Belmont Stakes winner, A.P. Indy, was broken and trained in Aiken by Tim Jones. Incognito is conditioned at the racetrack by Kiaran McLaughlin.
The gray colt made his last start over an off track at Belmont Park on May 11, in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes, and although he handled the slop, Incognito didn’t seem to like the mud being kicked back in his face. However, the colt seems to be bred for the 1 1/2-mile distance as his dam, Octave, won two-thirds of the New York Racing Association’s Triple Tiara, the Mother Goose Stakes and the Coaching Club American Oaks.