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Mar 14, 2014

Palace Malice opens campaign with Gulfstream Park Handicap win


Hallandale Beach, FL ( - Palace Malice, last year's Belmont Stakes winner, overcame a pair of rivals in a stretch duel to capture Saturday's $250,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap in his 2014 season opener.

Sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the seven-horse field, Palace Malice stalked the pace that was being set in the mile stakes by Falling Sky.

Around the far turn, Palace Malice and jockey John Velazquez hooked up with Itsmyluckyday and Uncaptured on the lead. Entering the stretch Palace Malice was along the inside with Uncaptured on the outside and Itsmyluckyday between the two. Golden Ticket came surging down the middle of the track.

Owned by Dogwood Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, Palace Malice fought threw the stretch versus Golden Ticket and Uncaptured until the wire. The favorite was able to post a head victory, edging out Golden Ticket and Uncaptured with Itsmyluckyday finishing fourth.

"He ran every step of the way and put himself in the game early, which we wanted to do," Pletcher said. "It's pretty rare you have a horse than can win the Belmont and also run 1:33 and change and stalk solid fractions. It tells you how good of a horse he is and how much quality he has."

Completing the order of finish were Narvaez, Sr. Quisqueyano and Falling Sky. Brujo de Olleros was scratched.

The time for the mile was 1:33.80 on a fast track.

"I was delighted with today," Dogwood Stable's Cot Campbell said. "It's a good feeling to see him come back like this in his first race in four months. He was tested pretty severely - I thought (Golden Ticket) would run by him - but he fought back."

Palace Malice earned $150,000 for the victory to bring his career bankroll to $1,631,135. The win was the 4-year-old colt's fourth in 13 lifetime starts.

As a 3-year-old in 2013, Palace Malice posted three wins in 10 starts for just under $1.42 million. Along with the Belmont Stakes he won the Jim Dandy at Saratoga and finished second in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and Belmont Park's Jockey Club Gold Cup. He finished the year with a sixth in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Palace Malice paid $4.60, $3.00 and $2.20. Golden Ticket returned $5.20 and $3.40, and Uncaptured paid $4.80 to show.

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