Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice is inspiring confidence as his return to competition nears. The 4-year-old colt is scheduled to end his break of nearly two months from racing in the grade I Whitney Handicap on Aug. 2 at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York.


“Everybody feels like he’ll run well,” said Dogwood President Cot Campbell on Sunday morning during a telephone interview.


Palace Malice turned in his final work prior to the Whitney on Saturday. With Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard, the bay colt covered five-eighths of a mile in :59.80 on Saratoga’s main track. The time was the third fastest posted among the 49 horses that breezed the same distance on the main track.


“It was brilliant; it looked like he was just galloping,” said Campbell of Palace Malice’s effort. “When he broke (to begin his work), there was another horse ahead of him by about five lengths just by happenstance. He nailed that horse turning for home and went on to run past him.”


Palace Malice breezed a day earlier than usual because weather forecasters predicted a threat of rain for Sunday.


The Whitney Handicap is 1? miles in length and has a purse of $1.5 million.


“It looks like there could be nine horses in it, and I would think that he (Palace Malice) would be favored,” Campbell said. “He should go off at (odds of) 6-5 or something like that, and he deserves it.”


Palace Malice, who has career earnings of $2,631,135, is undefeated in four races this year. In his most recent outing, he captured the grade I Metropolitan Handicap on June 7 at Belmont Park in New York.


“I’m anxious for him to get a decent post in the Whitney,” Campbell said. “It’s a short run to the first turn, so I don’t want him to be on the outside. I also don’t want him to be on the rail. I would love him to be in the middle of the pack.”


The July 21 edition of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Top Thoroughbred Poll ranked Palace Malice No. 1. Last year, he triumphed in the grade I Belmont Stakes.


Palace Malice has won seven of his 16 career races.


Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.