Make it three in a row for Palace Malice.
The Dogwood Stable colt didn’t break much of a sweat Sunday in winning the Westchester Stakes at Belmont Park by nine lengths.
The Aiken-trained horse was the prohibitive favorite at 1-9 odds and eased to victory in the $150,000 Grade III race against three other horses.
The time for the flat mile race was 1:35.5.
“It was spectacular,” Dogwood president Cot Campbell said Sunday. “He went off at 1-9, which indicated he was going to be spectacular. And he was. The rider (John Velazquez) said at no point did he have any concern.”
Declan’s Warrior placed second, and I’m Steppin’ It Up finished third.
Palace Malice, who won the Belmont Stakes last year on the same track, stalked the early pace and then made his move at the half-mile pole. He pulled away with ease from the competition, and earned $90,000 for the victory.
“Johnny kept him clear, and rode him like he was a 1-9 shot,” Campbell said.
It was the third win in as many tries for Palace Malice this year. Previously, the 4-year-old won the Gulfstream Park Handicap and the New Orleans Handicap.
Up next for Palace Malice is the Metropolitan Mile, which will be contested June 7 at Belmont. If that goes well, Campbell will enter him in a pair of races at Saratoga and will point toward the Breeders’ Cup in the fall.
“There’s no question about what’s next,” Campbell said.
Campbell had to watch the race Sunday from his Aiken home. He was the commencement speaker at USC Aiken on Thursday, and had a large contingent of family in town for the occasion.
“I was frustrated I couldn’t be there,” he said.