SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, out of Aiken’s Dogwood Stable, pressed front-running Moreno from the outset, then took command in the stretch to win the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes by a length Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Mike Smith, who was aboard Palace Malice in the Belmont, again rode the Todd Pletcher-trained colt, who ran 1⅛ miles in 1:47.37, the second-fastest time in the event to Louis Quatorze’s winning time of 1:47.26 in 1996. Will Take Charge rallied to finish second and Moreno faded to third.
“Everything went absolutely as we talked about it this morning when Mike and I went over the race,” Pletcher said. “We had a beautiful trip. He got into a good comfortable rhythm down the backside. He relaxed nicely and finished up pretty well in a very, very good time. We got the race over the track.
“The horse keeps getting better and better. Today was arguably his best performance yet.”
The Jim Dandy sets up Palace Malice, who went off as the 6-5 favorite, for what it expected to be a return engagement with Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Oxbow, the Preakness winner, in the 11/4-mile Travers Stakes on Aug. 24.
“He was so professional; the time was good, it unfolded like we hoped it would,” Dogwood’ president Cot Campbell said. “When he pounced, he pounced. He got the job done. He finished up well and I think it augers well for the Travers. But Travers or not, this is a great race to win and a great town to win it in. God almighty, I’m so pleased.”
The victory was worth $360,000 to Dogwood, and $4.70, $3.40 and $2.70 to Palace Malice’s betting supporters.
“It set up really well, but Todd and his connections had him really ready,” Smith said. “He was better than last time. Those are kind of big words to say after winning the Belmont, but he truly was, and with room to grow. The last sixteenth of a mile he was well within himself. He was searching for more ground, if i needed it. I think he’ll get every inch of a mile and a quarter; I really do.
Will Take Charge, ridden by Junior Alvarado, paid $11.80 and $6.10, and Moreno, ridden by Jose L. Ortiz, returned $4.30 to show.
Bashaar, Code West, Looking Cool, Perfect Title, Mylute and Freedom Child completed the order of finish. Vyjack was scratched.
Palace Malice broke his maiden at Saratoga last August by 3½ lengths and has now both of his starts at the track. He has three wins, three seconds and a third in nine starts, with earnings of $1,231,135.