Win one big race, and people want and expect you to win another. It’s only human nature. Six weeks ago, at Belmont Park, Dogwood Stables’ Palace Malice won a very big race. Passing the Test of Champions in convincing fashion, the attractive son of Curlin thrust his name into the ring as one of the leaders of America's glamour division. Long considered a horse with great promise and potential, Palace Malice won the Belmont Stakes like a very good thing. The 3 ¼ length score in the longest leg of the Triple Crown was proof to his supporters of his ability, and came as no big surprise to those who believed in the Todd Pletcher trained colt since his debut at Belmont Park last summer.
This is all well and good, but between his maiden win nearly a year ago, and his big score in the Belmont, Palace Malice had won a grand total of zero times. Still eligible for non winners of two other than, he needs to win again to prove that he is more than a one-hit wonder. Like so Belmont winners of recent years, if he is unable to build upon that win, he will quickly be labeled as another post-Belmont failure. The truth as of today, recency aside, is that Orb, and then Oxbow still would be considered the leaders of the three-year-old male division. That is, until some other horse can take it away from them. The good news for his fans is Palace Malice is the closest to doing so, and may be the one best equipped to get the job done.
A May foal, Palace Malice still has room for improvement. Keep in mind that before the Belmont, railbirds, including his own trainer, noted that he was flourishing in his morning works. That trend has continued upstate. It certainly looks that like the colt who was loaded down with excuses in five consecutive losses, has turned the corner, and is now ready to assume the role of a top class runner. He will get the chance to demonstrate this, as well as, validate his Belmont win, in Saturday’s Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. A win at the track where he is perfect in one start, and Palace Malice becomes a legitimate threat to ultimately finish the year with a championship.
The Jim Dandy looks like anything but easy pickings for the Belmont winner, though. Graded stakes winners Vyjack, Code West, Freedom Child, Will Take Charge, Looking Cool, and Moreno all should be in the Jim Dandy starting gate. Of the six, three have Triple Crown experience, and the other three are coming in directly off a graded stakes win. It could be the non-stakes winner of the bunch, though, who has the best opportunity to knock off Palace Malice on Saturday. Mylute, may have only finished fifth in the Derby and third in the Preakness, but the performances were strong enough to say he was as good as anyone in the two races combined. Throw in a narrow loss in the Louisiana Derby, and the son of Midnight Lute has run three bang-up races in a row.
The Jim Dandy, Saratoga’s prep for the $1 million Midsummer Derby, is clearly coming up strong with as many as eight horses seemingly having the credentials to get the job done on Saturday. I usually don’t like the Belmont winner in this spot, but this year is different. I believe that Palace Malice has gotten this good, and he will head to the Travers as a whole lot more than a one-hit wonder.