Point-Counterpoint: Palace Malice vs Normandy Invasion

Palace Malice vs Normandy Invasion in the Kentucky Derby
Two under-the-radar Kentucky Derby 2013 contenders could run big on Derby Day - Palace Malice and Normandy Invasion. HRN's Dead Heat Debater, Laura Pugh and Maryland's Own GQ, Gary Quill, tell you which is a prime contender and which may just be a wise-guy horse!

Palace Malice

Normandy Invasion

Dead Heat Debates
Maryland GQ
Laura Pugh:
There are several good horses lining up for the Kentucky Derby this year. Orb, Verrazano, Goldencents are all big-name favorites, and deservedly so, after winning their last races convincingly. However, they are not the only ones in with a shot. I hear many people talking up Normandy Invasion as a horse to beat, and while he has shown promise, I think Palace Malice is the horse to watch.
If you think about it, the two are very similar. Neither has won a race beyond a maiden. Both have only one off-the-board finish, which was only thanks to horrible trips, and both exited their first grade one a narrowly beaten second. So, why, if the two have so much in common, am I so pro Palace Malice?
Reason one - breeding. Normandy Invasion has all the looks of a horse who wants more distance, but his sire has only ever sired one three-year-old who has won a grade one at the classic distance, and that was the speedy Careless Jewel. Tapit may be the hot sire right now; however, the facts are in front of us in bold face, clearly stating that his best offspring perform best at distances of a mile to 1 1/16 miles. Palace Malice on the other hand has a sire that is a multiple grade one winner at 10 furlongs, and while one cannot accurately judge Curlin as a sire at the current moment, there is no arguing his prowess at the classic distance..

Secondly, Palace Malice is coming into the Derby as fit, if not fitter than most horses. Some may argue that four preps is too many, however, it could be just what horses need now a days. Practice like you play is a great piece of advice for any athlete, and that is just what this colt has been doing. In his races, he has been gaining valuable experience and fitness that can only be received through racing. His most recent was over Polytrack, a type of synthetic that is known for putting some bottom into horses.

This brings me to my next point, due to running in the Blue Grass, Palace Malice has a good deal of good history on his side. The race may not have been so great at producing winners in the Kentucky Derby, but it certainly hasn’t been unheard of in the big race, as most recently Dullahan stormed up late to capture the bronze. Before him, Paddy O’Prado was third in the run for the roses, and Street Sense took home the gold.

Another thing I prefer, in regards to Palace Malice vs. Normandy Invasion, is running style. Normandy Invasion’s late running style often leaves him too much to do when the field turns for home, and while he does have an impressive kick it seems that he tends to hang when he does finally catch his competition. See the Remsen and Wood Memorial for examples. Palace Malice sits just behind the leaders, in the second wave of horses, stalking and waiting to pounce. He proved that with a good trip that style can be very dangerous when nearly taking the Blue Grass, after wrestling the lead from a talented Rydilluc.

Normandy Invasion does have his positive attributes, don’t get me wrong, but when compared to Palace Malice who has the advantage of breeding, fitness, and running style I just don’t see him being able to beat Palace Malice to the finish line in Kentucky Derby 139.


Gary Quill:
Laura, we agree on the fact that there are “several good horses” heading to the Derby in 2013 that have a legitimate shot at winning. Certainly more than in the past thanks to the Derby Point system which help eliminate sprinters and the 2-year-old “wonders”. However, Palace Malice appears to be destined to become the 2013 “wise-guy” Derby horse that fails to receive the blanket of roses. On the other hand, Normandy Invasion is the horse primed for a top performance on the first Saturday in May..

The two are indeed very similar, for the reasons you’ve eloquently stated, but I’m ready to defend Normandy Invasion as the colt who has a better shot than Palace Malice to earn the title, Kentucky Derby Winner.

On paper, Palace Malice’s breeding (son of Curlin) jumps out at you, but the race isn’t run on paper. Curlin was a late-bloomer, and the same may be true for his 3-year-old son. Plus, on the bottom (dam), Palace Rumor was a turf sprinter, never winning on beyond one mile, so his dam influence may hinder classic distance ability. Normandy Invasion’s dam was no prize on the track, but at least Brisnet give both an equal chance (110 number) at covering the classic distance.

Fit?! Look up the word in Webster’s Dictionary, and you might find a photo of Normandy Invasion. At the end of his 2-year-old campaign, trainer Chad Brown mapped out a simple plan… two prep races prior to the Derby and has stuck to it. So far, so good. After a troubled trip (no points earned) against a heavy speed bias in the G2 Risen Star, he proved himself a worthy Derby contender with a strong runner-up finish to probable Derby favorite Verrazano, in the G1 Wood Memorial. It’s perfect progression leading to the famous “3rd race off a layoff” angle.

When it comes to Derby prep history, the Wood Memorial is the grand-daddy of them all. Eleven of its winners have gone onto capture the first leg of the Triple Crown. Secretariat ran third in the Wood! This year from top to bottom, it may have been the toughest of all the major (100 points to the winner) preps. Meanwhile, industry “talking heads” believe the weakest series of preps were contested at Fairgrounds (LeComte, Risen Star & LA Derby), where Palace Malice placed 3rd and a troubled 7th in the latter two.
As far as running style, too much emphasis (or concern) is placed on closers having to negotiate through traffic. Six (6) of the past thirteen (13) Derby winners have rallied from 10th or further back in the final 4 furlongs - Myth Busted! What’s of more importance is having a pilot who is familiar with his 3-years-olds tendencies. Javier Castellano raised some eyebrows when he elected to stick with Normandy Invasion instead of Revolutionary, who he rode to victory in the G2 Louisiana Derby. Palace Malice, on the other hand, will have Hall of Famer Mike Smith in the irons. Smith will be the 5th different jockey on Palace Malice in as many 2013 starts.
When their racing careers are over, Palace Malice could prove to be the better of the two, but since we are discussing who would be the better bet in Kentucky Derby 139, Normandy Invasion should prove to be the wiser short-term investment option.


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Older Comments about Point-Counterpoint: Palace Malice vs Normandy Invasion...

All this being said, the Derby is the Derby I personally only give a few a shot to win but if the setup is right it can be anyone's race and good luck to everyone no matter who you like.
In thoroughbred racehorses when Sires will have 100s of offsprings and Dams will have maybe 15-20 if they're lucky, the talent acquistion is (roughly) 80% of the dam. That is where the differences are made, that is where horses seperate themselves on the racetrack from a pedigree aspect. Many many many Curlins will hit the track very few Boston Lady's will even race (not that she herself is a jewel). You only need to go a few back and we have Capote (by Seattle Slew) and Raise a Native (by Native Dancer). Along with that we get a combination of Pulpit blood on top (AP Indy - Seattle Slew) along with Mr Prospector and Unbridled (by Fappiano). Your looking at horse with a good mix of stamina and speed throughout both sides of the pedigree along with having a solid kick. NI is a dangerous racehorse. This isn't to say that Palice Malace has a horrid pedigree, but I really don't see how his dam's side even compare's to NI's plus the combo doesn't add up. I'm just saying I wouldn't call PM's pedigree better, it's unlikely that he will be able to produce a kick like NI's despite their racing positions given the pedigree balance. It's also hard to say that Tapit can't breed distance horse's he's only had them on the track for a little over 5 years. I'd say his tend to be more precocious if anything. If we want to talk about humans then yes the father has just as likely a say in your potential as your mother unless he is a polymagmist -- you'll see the differences through the mother. There are reasons (by example) that some horses by Curlin will sell for 50k at sale and other may go as high as 200k (once again a possible future example). Curlin is the same on both sides the differences always come in the female (distaff/maternal) line. It's important not to get too caught up in the Sire himself. Curlin was a great horse, he will have many many many offspring. He will be lucky if he gets 1 or 2 that come to 1/2 of what he was BUT maybe with a combination of s strong female side he can produce a foal of worth (not that Palace Malice isn't but his dam's side isn't magnificent).
I guess it depends on what your definition of better breeding for distance is, but when a horse is by a sire who has only one three year old who has won at the Classic distance to his name, I don't see that as better. Tapit's only Classic winner, at the age of three, was Careless Jewel. Headache didn't win at 10f until he was older, Joyful Victory, only just won her first race beyond 8.5f. When a horse has a track record like that, you can't simply ignore it. Both have foundation, but the poly to dirt angle has worked very well in the Derby recently, and this year PM definitely has experience quite a bit more than most horses in his preps, including Normandy Invasion.
last time I lookd the male and female's DOSE was equivalent...Just tell your father he only represents 30% of your "talent" and see what he says about it!
Normandy Invasion/Verrazano/ Governor Charlie.... in that order
Secretariat was 3rd in the Wood Memorial there Gary!
i think folks are missing the boat on palice malice ill stick with my original 3 from december in no particular order palice malice revolutionary and will take charge i will say there has not been one impressive running time in a derby prep this yr so i think most would agree that you could put the top 14/15 horse in a hat and pull one out and no one would be shocked they won
I *think* this is Palace Malice galloping today.. it certainly isn't Verrazano... http://www.kentuckyderby.com/news/videos/verrazano-gallops-churchill-downs-42413
NI is a better horse. NI has better breeding (especially on dam's side -- 80% of talent in thoroughbred offspring). NI has raced better horses and finished up his races better. The only thing PM really has going for him is he'll be better odds.....and those don't mean anything when he'll finish out of the money. Wood>Bluegrass in 2013, and NI ran better than PM in their final preps. To me if it's soley these two NI>PM......not to say I haven't been wrong before, but I highly doubt it in this scenario
Of the two, I think Normandy Invasion will finish closer behind Will Take Charge than Palice Malice. :)
Both are intersting, but of the two, I like Normandy Invasion.
Me to Andy:) I also have a dark horse/sleeper in Frac Daddy.
I never said that NI would WIN the Derby. Just stated that he was a better bet than PM. ;)
Sorry guys neither of these two get the nod from me, but I did enjoy the debate! I am a Revolutionary.

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