If there were any critics who questioned Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice's ability, his indubitable performance on Saturday afternoon in winning the 50th running of the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, removed all doubt.
The dark bay colt followed his dominating 3 ¼-length victory in the 145th edition of the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes, with an equally strong performance in the 1 1/8-mile, $600,000 Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, a 1-length victory over Will Take Charge, and in the process became the latest horse that's trained over the Aiken Training Track to earn more than $1 million. Palace Malice was trained in Aiken by Legacy Stable's Brad Stauffer. The wagering public rewarded Palace Malice with their confidence by making him the 6/5 post time favorite. The 2012 Aiken-Trained Horse of the Year, Godolphin Racing's Alpha, won last year's edition of the Jim Dandy Stakes.
Palace Malice's workouts over the past few weeks, after his June victory in the Belmont Stakes, were redolent of an athlete who was destined for greatness. The colt broke well, racing close to the pace being dictated by Moreno, providing Palace Malice with tactical options as the contest went on, and the colt's professionalism and equanimity were the difference entering the stretch as the son of Curlin and Mike Smith took command as they drove toward the wire. Palace Malice's time of 1:47:37 was the second fastest time run at the 1 1/8-mile distance for the stakes races in the past 42 years. The Jim Dandy Stakes had been run at 7-furlongs in 1971 and at the distance of 1-mile from 1964 to 1970.
It was the sixth Jim Dandy Stakes victory for 5-time Eclipse Award winning trainer Todd Pletcher. Palace Malice's victory will more than likely mean a rematch with the other two winners of the first two jewels of Thoroughbred Racing's Triple Crown, Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow, in the 1 ¼-mile, $1,000,000, Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 24. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith had the return call on the son of Curlin, and confidently rode Palace Malice to victory, in front of a crowd of more than 25,000 spectators.
The winning rider was extremely enthusiastic about the victory, said W. Cothran Campbell, Dogwood Stable president.
“Mike Smith said Palace Malice's performance in the Jim Dandy was better than his race in the Belmont Stakes,” said Campbell. “He had plenty left underneath him at the wire.”
Palace Malice increased his lifetime earnings to $1,231,135.
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.