An exhibition in courage.
There's no other way to describe it. Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice's victory in the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes, the final jewel of Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, showcased the colt's inherent character, his heart and intrepidation as he demonstrated a warrior spirit and willingness to win in the 1½-mile race. The 3-year-old bay colt, conditioned by Todd Pletcher and ridden to perfection by Mike Smith, captured the imagination of the nation.
“I'm proud of him,” said W. Cothran Campbell, Dogwood Stable president. “He deserved to win a major race like that.”
The outcome of the race was one of those defining moments and rare experiences, Campbell said. When Palace Malice took command at the quarter pole, before drawing clear to win by a convincing 3¼-length margin, it was a dream becoming a reality.
“I thought to myself, 'I believe we're going to get there,” said Campbell. “Our first thought was looking for Orb, and I could see that Orb wasn't going to get to him, and we were drawing off. It flashed in my mind, 'He is going to win this race.' It's like an explosion in your brain. I went, 'Wow.'”
However, this isn't the first time Campbell has won a Classic race.
Summer Squall won the middle jewel of Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, and, although the two horses are similar in the sense that they possess tremendous talent, courage and the hearts of champions, they have their respective differences.
“I think Palace Malice is a little less fiery, less complicated,” said Campbell. “Summer Squall was a little showier.”
Palace Malice didn't possess the same precocity as Summer Squall, developing later, and appears now to be coming into his own. The son of Curlin was foaled May 2, 2010.
“He's only 3 years old and five weeks, but he's getting better and better,” said Campbell. “He's awesome to have. He possesses incredible energy. Summer Squall had good energy, but Palace Malice is tough. He thrives on work.”
Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004.
Among the awards Baugh has won include the 2003 Raleigh Burroughs Award as the turf writer making the most impact on the Florida Thoroughbred Industry. Baugh is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, worked for North America's leading Thoroughbred breeder Adena Springs in Ocala, Fla., and interned at Thoroughbred Racing Communications in New York, N.Y.