It has been nothing less than a spectacular year for Palace, who began his rise to the top in last year's Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap. Since that first graded stakes score, Palace has added two more graded wins plus an additional graded placing. In his last outing, he captured the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt, but despite that victory, he was once again underestimated by the betting public in today's Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga. Sent off at 4-1, Palace made the rest of the field look average with a dazzling stretch run.
At the break, Zee Bros and Weekend Hideaway gunned for the early lead, but it was Zee Bros who outsprinted the field to establish the early advantage. With Weekend Hideaway in close pursuit, Zee Bros set blistering splits of :22.48 for the opening quarter and :45.23 for the half. While that duo engaged in their own personal race within a race, Palace tucked in behind them in third, patiently biding his time.
As the field exited the far turn, post time favorite Clearly Now began to move up on the outside, but his drive for the lead fizzled before it even truly began. To the inside, Palace took advantage of a huge hole opening up on the rail to storm past the tiring Zee Bros and seize the lead. From there he simply played catch me if you can while drawing away under Cornelio Velasquez to win by 3 1/2 lengths. The final time for the 7 furlong event was a strong 1:21.95.
"I wanted to break good and stay in good position behind the speed," winning jockey Velasquez said after the race. "I had a lot of horse. When the opening came, I was in good position. I think my horse is the best sprinting horse now."
Big Business passed Vyjack in the stretch to nab the place by a neck, and Vyjack outfinished Capo Bastone by a length to capture third. Fourth place Capo Bastone was followed by Sensational Slam, Weekend Hideaway, Zee Bros, Clearly Now and Confrontation.
As the 4-1 second choice in the field of nine, Palace paid $10.60/$4.50/$4.00 for the win. Big Business returned $15.20/$9.00 off 20-1 odds, and Vyjack paid $6.40 off 10-1 odds. The $2 exacta paid $120.50, the $2 trifecta returned $901.00 and the $2 superfecta was worth $6,962.00.
Earlier in the week, trainer Linda Rice was uncertain as to whether she would run Palace in the Forego, but the decision to run rather than wait for the Vosburgh Invitational obviously paid off handsomely. "[Palace] is a really talented horse, and when he is good I need to use him because on several occasions I've needed to stop on him, turn him out, and give him a break," Rice said in regards to her decision to go ahead and run Palace. "When a horse is doing as well as he is, I don't know how long I can keep him that good."
By City Zip and out of the End Sweep mare Receivership, Palace is owned by Antonino Miuccio. As a two-year old, the bay colt was purchased for $160,000 by agent Doug Cauthen on behalf of WinStar Farm at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company 2011 Selected Two Year-Olds in Training Sale. In his fourth career start, trainer Rice and owner Miuccio claimed the colt for $20,000.
Today's victory improved Palace's career record to 21: 11-5-2 and gave him the distinction of being a dual grade 1 winner. It also propelled him to the top of the male sprint division. The $300,000 winner's share of the $500,000 purse pushed his total earnings to $1,309,550. Linda Rice will now point her charge to the six furlong Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational at Belmont on September 27.