With only four entries in today’s Westchester Stakes, Palace Malice is poised to continue his unbeaten run as a 4-year-old.
While Dogwood Stable president Cot Campbell sees the lack of competition as flattering, the Aiken-trained colt looks to win his third race in as many tries this year.
The colt by Curlin out of Palace Rumor is up to No. 2 in the National Thoroughred Racing Association’s latest poll, behind only the seasoned turf horse Wise Dan.
“They were having trouble getting horses to run,” Campbell said before Thursday’s post drawing.
Palace Malice will break from the No. 3 position in the $150,000 Grade III race at Belmont Park.
John Velazquez will be aboard for the mile race.
“He couldn’t be doing better. We’re delighted,” Campbell said. “It’s an ideal prep for the Metropolitan Mile, which is June 7.”
Palace Malice, which won the Belmont Stakes last summer, has excelled in both of his races this year. He won the Gulfstream Park Handicap in Florida in early March, then romped to victory at the New Orleans Handicap three weeks later.
Campbell said the mile distance should suit his colt. Palace Malice won at that distance in his first race of the year, and his next race at the Metropolitan Mile would be that distance, too.
“It’s the same distance, same race track and it will tell us whether the short distance is his cup of tea,” Campbell said. “He did awful well at Gulfstream.”
Campbell’s plan after the Metropolitan Mile is a pair of races at Saratoga in late summer. If those go well, then he’ll return to Belmont for the Jockey Club Gold Cup and then on to the Breeders’ Cup.
Campbell’s confidence in Palace Malice is so great that he’s made a $5,000 wager in Nevada that his colt will win Horse of the Year.
“That was an interesting thing,” Campbell said of the future bet. “My request required the Nevada gaming commission to give a special dispensation because it was based on a ballot. After three months, they did do that.”
Because of Campbell, the Nevada sports books can now take wagers on such events as the Heisman Trophy and Academy Awards.
While Wise Dan is the 4-1 favorite to capture Horse of the Year honors, Campbell received 12-1 odds on Palace Malice.
The two horses could square off at Saratoga in the Whitney Handicap.
“That would be good, I hope they do,” Campbell said. “It would be good to tackle him.”