Not even the inside rail could stop Palace Malice.
The Dogwood Stable colt roared down the stretch to win the $1,250,000 Grade I Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on Saturday.
“It’s a great, great thrill,” Dogwood president Cot Campbell said in a phone interview. “We’re on cloud nine.”
A year after winning the Belmont Stakes on the same track, Palace Malice pulled off his fourth consecutive victory as a 4-year-old despite starting from the No. 1 hole. He broke cleanly and stalked early pacesetters Broadway Empire and Goldencents, then jockey John Velazquez made his move.
Palace Malice split the leaders just before the 1/8th pole and pulled ahead of Goldencents, who finished second by a length. Romansh came in third.
“When I finally got him through, he started running,” Velazquez told The Blood-Horse. “He was (hesitant to go through). The room was there, but I kind of have to keep him busy, keep him busy. The spot was there, but he went to jump from one side to the other one and I almost lost my spot. I got after him again, and he finally got through.”
The Aiken-trained colt went off as the 6-5 favorite in the field of 12 and carried the top weight of 124 pounds. The winning time was 1:33.56.
Conquistador Cielo won both the Met Mile and the Belmont five days apart in 1982, but it had been 56 years since Gallant Man won the Belmont and the Met Mile a year apart before Palace Malice turned the trick.
“That’s a remarkable combination,” Campbell said. “The brilliance of a mile and the stamina of a mile and a half.”
The son of Curlin out of Palace Rumor, Palace Malice won $670,000 on Saturday and now has career earnings of more than $2.6 million.
Campbell will now point Palace Malice toward the Grade I Whitney Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 2. But for now, Campbell and Dogwood will savor another victory.
“It takes a while to sink in,” he said. “We thought he had given away the weight and the post was not desirable, but he got it done.”