SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y— A rough start and a slow pace didn't help Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice, but a strong finish found him beaten by less than a length.
“He missed the break,” said W. Cothran Campbell, Dogwood Stable president. “He usually breaks on the lead. He advanced into a slow pace. Mike (Smith) said he ran terrifically. We'll run him back in the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 28.”
For a moment, it looked like there might be a dead heat for first in consecutive runnings of the Travers Stakes.
Willis Horton's Will Take Charge, who placed second in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, dug in resolutely and got up in the final jump to defeat Moreno by a nose, winning the 144th running of the 1 ¼-mile, $1 million, Grade 1 Travers Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course. Will Take Charge's previous stakes victories had been in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and Smarty Jones Stakes, with both of his previous stakes scores coming at Oaklawn Park.
The son of Unbridled's Song is conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Southern Equine Stables Moreno, a son of the 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, is conditioned by Eric Guillot. The colt had finished third in his previous start, the Jim Dandy Stakes on July 27.
But, what about Aiken's triumvirate? How did they fare on Saturday?
Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice, was second choice in the wagering, being sent off at odds of 5-2. The son of Curlin stumbled at the start, and was carried a bit inward by Godolphin Racing's Transparent, reserving energy early, while racing well off an extremely slow pace.
The multiple stakes winner began advancing steadily into contention, going four wide late in the race, and came with good energy in the final furlongs, to finish fourth, narrowly missing for third, being beaten by less than a length.
Godolphin Racing Stable's Romansh, a son of Bernardini, raced close to the pace early set by Moreno and stayed close to the leaders, before weakening in the final furlong to finish fifth. Romansh, the winner of last month's Curlin Stakes, was broken and trained by Tim Jones in Aiken and is conditioned at the racetrack by Tom Albertrani.
The other Godolphin Racing Stable entry didn't fare as well. Transparent, another son of Bernardini, placed ninth in the race, breaking inward and carrying Palace Malace briefly, racing off the rail, and was never a factor. Transparent was broken and trained in Aiken by Tim Jones, and is conditioned by Kiaran McLaughlin.
“He came back OK,” said McLaughlin. “He just didn't run well. We'll run him back in three to five weeks.”
Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004.