The Todd Pletcher trained Palace Malice bounced back from his 12th place finish in the Kentucky Derby to defeat Derby winner Orb and Preakness winner Oxbow in the 145th running of the $1 million Belmont Stakes.
Pletcher sent out a record five runners in the race and most thought either Revolutionary or Overanalyze was his best shot of winning his second Belmont. Pletcher won the 2007 running with the filly Rags to Riches.
Under a patient ride from Mike Smith, the colt tracked a sharp early pace set by Frac Daddy and Oxbow, the early fractions of 46.66 the second fast half mile in the history of the race.
Frac Daddy caved in and Oxbow inherited the lead as Orb starting making his late run after sitting next to last in the early going of the race.
Palace Malice took over at the quarterpole and it looked as if his main danger would be Orb. However, Oxbow fought on gamely until late, finishing 3 ¼ lengths back while Orb flattened out in the stretch and could not get to the Preakness winner despite a slow final quarter mile in 27.58. Incognito rallied to finish fourth.
Palace Malice paid $29.60 and topped a $2 exacta that paid $323.50.
The race played out nearly exactly how I laid it out on paper, except for a couple of minor details.
Orb was my top pick and the colt got exactly the type of pace set up I was expecting, but the Derby winner did not have enough punch left late.
Palace Malice was my second choice, and got a solid tracking trip and the removal of blinkers and a perfect patient ride from Mike Smith was the key.
After six furlongs in 1:10.95 I was certain Oxbow would back up, but the colt showed some real gameness in the stretch to hold on to the runner up spot, which cost us a hefty exacta.
Even jockey Gary Stevens thought he was in trouble.
“I thought I was dead midway down the backside. They were suicidal fractions and he never got any break, “Stevens said.
My third choice Incognito ran a solid fourth at 18-1, completing a $2 superfecta that returned $20,602.
What started out after the Derby like we might have a serious Triple Crown candidate, Orb could do no better than fourth in the Preakness and third in the Belmont.
His jockey Joel Rosario is arguably the best jockey going right now, but he was beaten by hall of fame riders Gary Stevens and Mike Smith in the final two jewels of the Triple Crown by a couple of guys that are 50 and 46 years old respectively.
I have a piece up on Bleacher Report titled “Old Fellas Smith and Stevens Steal Triple Crown Spotlight” which anyone carrying an AARP card will enjoy.
— Palace Malice (@PalaceMalice) June 9, 2013
Palace Malice Wins 145th running of the Belmont Stakes
2013 Belmont Stakes Results
PP Horse Win Place Show
12 Palace Malice 29.60 11.20 6.70
7 Oxbow 9.90 6.10
5 Orb 3.90
$2 Exacta 12-7 $323.50
$2 Superfecta 12-7-5-6 $20,602.00
$2 Trifecta 12-7-5 $931.00