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Palace Malice & Verrazano Put In Penultimate Travers Works

When the main track opened Sunday morning following the renovation break at 8:50 a.m., 3-year-old stars Palace Malice and Verrazano were the first horses bounding through the gap, eager to put in their penultimate works for the Grade 1, $1 million Travers Stakes on August 24.

 

With exercise rider Jake Nelson aboard, Palace Malice breezed four furlongs in 49.02 seconds, the 16th fastest of 67 works at the distance. Verrazano, with Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez up, worked the same distance in 49.05, in company with Secretariat Stakes-bound turf runner Jack Milton.

 

"I thought we had a very good morning; everything went just as we had hoped," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "We've certainly never come into the Travers with two horses with credentials this strong and doing as well as these two horses are. We'll just cross our fingers for 13 more days and hope everything continues to go as well as it is."

 

Palace Malice is seeking to become the only horse besides Arts and Letters in 1969 to win the Belmont Stakes, the Jim Dandy and the Travers. Arts and Letters was named Horse of the Year that year. To accomplish the feat, Palace Malice will have to defeat his stablemate, Verrazano, who is coming off a scintillating 9 ¾-length victory in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on July 28 at Monmouth Park.

 

Pletcher recognizes putting the two together is not ideal, but both are in contention for end of the year honors.

 

"You hate to run two horses like this against each other, but it's the right thing for each horse and each owner, so that's what we're going to do," Pletcher said. "Both horses are certainly in position where a win here would solidify their status at the top of the division. What better place to decide it than on the racetrack in the Travers?"

 

Pletcher also worked Princess of Sylmar, the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and Grade 1 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks winner, who is seeking to add the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama to her resume on Saturday.

 

Princess of Sylmar breezed four furlongs in 49.50 seconds, 49th fastest of 100 works at the distance.

 

The daughter of Majestic Warrior won the Kentucky Oaks at odds of 38-1 and was less highly thought of than her stablemates Dreaming of Julia and Unlimited Budget, who she vanquished that day.

 

Pletcher believes any doubts about her talent have been eliminated.

 

"I think it changed in the [Coaching Club American] Oaks [on July 20 at the Spa]," Pletcher said. "She put any questions about her Kentucky Oaks victory to rest in there with a very strong performance. She's trained brilliantly since then. We hope she can repeat that type of effort in the Alabama. For a filly that has only lost one time since her debut, and coming off a win in the Kentucky Oaks and the Coaching Club, she's established herself as the division leader."

 

 

 

 

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