It's a connection that resonated loudly throughout the city of Aiken.


Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice's victory in the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes validated the colt as one of the best of his generation. The multiple graded stakes winning millionaire was formally honored on Sunday. A ceremony was held at the City of Aiken Municipal Center, paying homage to Palace Malice as the 2013 Aiken Trained Horse of the Year.


Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh and Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum Advisory Board Members Jeannie Groat and Warren Dempsey were among the dignitaries who spoke at Sunday's event, but it was Magnolia Racing Stable Manager John Adger who introduced Dogwood Stable's President W. Cothran Campbell.


“We are delighted with the award,” said Campbell, whose proficiency as a raconteur entertained a standing room only audience. “I'm very pleased that this horse has had a close association with the people of Aiken.”


Palace Malice was embraced by the city. His accomplishments at the racetrack personified those character traits that have given Aiken its unique personality. The reception Palace Malice received from the daily assemblage of people during his seven weeks under the care of Legacy Stable's Brad Stauffer and Ron Stevens at the Aiken Training Track, as he galloped in the morning or grazed in the afternoon, was overwhelming, said Campbell.


“I think people fell in love with him,” said Campbell.


But it was Campbell's comment to NBC's Bob Costas, after Palace Malice's victory in the Belmont Stakes, that captured the nation's imagination and shined the spotlight on the city. Campbell proudly proclaimed before a broadcast audience “That tonight the people of Aiken, S.C., are going to be dancing in the streets.”


Campbell thanked the team that made it all possible. Legacy Stable's trainers Brad Stauffer and Ron Stevens; Dogwood Stable Vice President Jack Sadler; Palace Malice's Groom Daniel Negrete; his rider in Aiken, Gene Tucker; Campbell's 'Right arm in the office,' Diane Smith; Palace Malice's trainer at the racetrack, Todd Pletcher; and most importantly, his wife of 55 years, Anne Campbell.


However, it's Campbell's courage as a sportsman, his vision and intrepidity as a horseman that led to the purchase of Palace Malice, the horse with the lovely personality, nice disposition and robust spirit for life.


Anne Campbell was recently honored as the woman beside the man, for her efforts with the Saratoga WarHorse program, by the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum advisory board.


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.