Dogwood Stable announced this past weekend that their star runner, Palace Malice will be New Orleans bound to run in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap on March 29. Something about this news just brings a smile to my soul.
Remember what happened to the handsome son of Curlin the last time he made the trip to the Big Easy? I do. The result was not big, and his trip was anything but easy. The young colt was rode hard and put away wet by the racing gods in the Louisiana Derby that day. With little room to run in all the key moments of the race, it is seldom that you can say the seventh place finisher very well could have been best, but so it was for Palace Malice and his trip from hell. I was disappointed for his octogenarian owner, Cot Campbell.
Campbell, the man behind the familiar green and yellow silks of Dogwood Stable, is a man I’ve rooted for over several decades of enjoying the races. He’s as colorful as he is genuine, and his partnership blueprint helped bring the common man to our sport. Cot was born and bred in New Orleans, but has yet to win the biggest races his birthplace city has to offer. He was robbed of his chance in last year’s Louisiana Derby due to racing luck. It would seem only fitting for horse and owner to have better luck this time around. The man in charge of that luck will be a familiar face.
Of note will be a rider change for Palace Malice back to Mike Smith. John Velazquez piloted him to victory in his seasonal debut, a game as could be score in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, but is otherwise occupied on the 29th with the Florida Derby, so it’s back to Smitty. It will be a reunion for a pair that together, accounted for big wins in the Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy last year.
Among the list of possible suspects to take him on in Fair Grounds’ most important race for older horses, includes several horses that took advantage of his unfortunate trip in last year’s Louisiana Derby, including the winner himself, Revolutionary. In this case, revenge could be a dish best served with a fair amount of cajun spice.
As for what comes after the New Orleans Handicap, Dogwood went on to say that a tentative plan for Palace Malice could include a start in the Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 3. They did not elaborate any further than that, but I have to believe that the rich Met Mile, now on Belmont Stakes Day, would be a logical next step. Selfishly, all of this means that I would be able to see one of my current favorite horses in person in each of his next three starts. I may be getting ahead of myself just a bit, but Palace Malice and Cot Campbell are a pair I can really get behind.
I believe Palace Malice to be one of the best horses in America, and I know that Cot Campbell is one our great racing ambassadors. Nothing would make me happier than seeing them meet up in the Fair Grounds’ winner’s circle on Louisiana Derby Day. It may be a year late, but I have no doubt that they deserve a big win together in the Big Easy.