Most horses aren’t cut out for stardom, but this one is.
Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice is known for his professionalism, work ethic and steady demeanor, but mostly for his win in the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes.
The talented 3-year-old son of Curlin, worked this past Sunday at Belmont Park, in preparation for the 1¼-mile, $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. on Nov. 2, a race where the 3-year-old championship is on the line.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic brings together the best horses in the world.
Palace Malice will work one more time this Sunday with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the irons, who will ride him in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“He seems to be getting better all the time,” said W. Cothran Campbell, Dogwood Stable president. “He’s a May 2 foal, and I think we’ve seen him mature and get smarter, understand the game and physically develop. I think he’s going to be a better 4-year-old than he is a 3-year-old.”
The dark bay colt’s work last Sunday was seamless, but it was no surprise to his camp’s connections, the one’s that know him best. Next Saturday’s contest will be a race within a race, or a “Battle within a Battle” as The Blood-Horse’s Steve Haskin so aptly described the colt’s rivalry with the D. Wayne Lukas trained, Will Take Charge, his rival for sophomore male honors. Todd Pletcher, the five-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer, is a former Lukas assistant.
“Lukas is a great friend of mine,” said Campbell. “He wrote the foreword to my book ‘Lightning In a Jar.’ He told me after the Travers that he thought we ran the best horse.”
The colt will ship to California on Tuesday and accompany the other horses in Pletcher’s barn on a special charter out of Belmont Park that will race in the Breeders’ Cup races on Saturday, said Campbell.
“He’ll gallop Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, school in the paddock and the gate,” he said.
Campbell compared Palace Malice to a 21-year-old college football player and the older horses he will run against to 27-year-old professionals, in physical and mental capacity.
And having a horse like Palace Malice at this stage of his career, after more than four decades as a Thoroughbred owner, makes it a special time for Campbell, who has been involved with a number of great horses.
“You wonder about karma, and maybe this is the time in my life for this to happen,” said Campbell. “It’s thrilling and nerve wracking all at the same time. Palace Malice doesn’t sweat it, but I’ll be on edge until we go to California, and then I’ll really be on edge. The minutes will go by like hours.”
Palace Malice’s success means a great deal to Campbell, who at 86 has campaigned a fair share of horses and has always been realistic that most of them haven’t been cut out for stardom, even though they look like they may have had the potential when he purchased them at auction.
“This one is cut out for stardom, and he’s already achieved it,” said Campbell. “So, no one has ever lived who will appreciate that more than me. I’ve been involved with this for 40 years and have been following racehorses since I was a child. I appreciate a good horse and have great respect for them.”
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.