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Derby Dozen #11: Palace Malice

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(Curlin x Palace Rumor, by Royal Anthem)

  • Trainer: Todd Pletcher (Rags to Riches, Super Saver, Uncle Mo)
  • Jockey: Mike Smith (2nd last year on Bodemeister)
  • Owned by: Dogwood Stable
  • Record: 6:1-3-1
  • Earnings: $271,135
  • Best speed figures: 93 Beyer, 100 Equibase

Background: How many horses does the Toddster have? Quite a few this year, for sure, but it was a hard sell that one of the first Curlins would not get in. Palace Malice was certainly a two-year-old to watch from last year, and while he’s been riddled with poor trips, he made a last-ditch dive in for points at the Blue Grass Stakes (I). Like stablemate Revolutionary, he is a product of the storied W.S. Farish breeding program.

Prep Schedule: Palace Malice scored his maiden win on his second try going 6 1/2 furlongs in a talented Saratoga maiden special weight then was done for the year. In his three-year-old debut, he was a strong second behind the speedster Majestic Hussar in a sloppy Gulfstream allowance. Suffering a bad trip in the Risen Star (II) next out, he still managed to take the stretch-out to 1 1/16 miles well to dive in for third place, beaten by just a half-length. He encountered yet another bad trip in the Louisiana Derby (II) stretching out to 9 furlongs, getting jostled to be 7th. Trying yet again, he nearly got the win in the Blue Grass (I), but was edged out late by Java’s Pass by a neck.

Pedigree: Part of Curlin’s first crop to race, Palace Malice has some substantial potential to be a force on virtually any surface much like his multi-G1 winning sire, who made a winning effort in all three of the 2007 Triple Crown races. Dam Palace Rumor was a stakes winner on turf in her day, and with her pedigree it’s not that surprising. Her sire is Royal Anthem, who like his own sire Theatrical [IRE] was a star on the turf, winning a G1 and running 2nd to Daylami [IRE] in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Turf. Palace Rumor’s dam is by Red Ransom, an international turf influence. Palace Malice is pretty clean of inbreeding barring two further-back traces to Northern Dancer.

Estimated TrueNicks Rating: C Variant 1.19

Running Style: Midpack, off-the-pace

Pros: Does a bad trip equal a bad horse? Nope. Palace Malice has yet to really extend himself thanks to a host of cruddy trips, and the addition of Mike Smith and blinkers ought to help him out. Imagine if he didn’t have so many bad trips: he was off the board only once!

Cons: He’s been second for 3 of his 6 starts and has just been full of excuses why. Layoff, traffic, possibly just not good enough. Out of all the Pletchers, he’s likely the weakest link and hasn’t shown us much that proves he’s Derby material.

Final Word: I am biased in hoping to see something miraculous since Palace Malice is the only Derby runner I’ve seen in the flesh and it would be awesome to see him win. However, I recognize he has a lot stacked up against him missing out on that Blue Grass win and after so many races, does he have a big run left in him? Well, he did appear to outwork his Arkansas Derby (I)-winning stablemate today in blinks… wild card!

All-time leading money winner Curlin got his first winner at Saratoga on Whitney day when heavy favorite Palace Malice ran clear of the field (Photo by Dawna Wood/GallopingHatRack.com)

All-time leading money winner Curlin got his first winner at Saratoga on Whitney day when heavy favorite Palace Malice ran clear of the field (Photo by Dawna Wood/GallopingHatRack.com)

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