Palace Continues Campaign in Gravesend
December 18, 2013 07:37am
Aqueduct Gate 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Palace, who became a graded stakes winner in his most recent start, heads a field of six sprinters entered in the $100,000 Gravesend Handicap, which will be contested at six furlongs on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.


One of three entrants for Linda Rice, Palace enters the Gravesend for 3-year-olds and up off a 1 ½-length win in Aqueduct's Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap on November 28 over Strapping Groom, who also was entered in the Gravesend.


The Fall Highweight was the third straight stakes win for Palace, who took the Chowder's First overnight stakes by three lengths in August at Saratoga Race Course and the Hudson Handicap by 1 ¼ lengths in October at Belmont Park. Both the Chowder's First and the Hudson were restricted to New York-breds.


In the Fall Highweight, Palace raced four lengths off the lead in sixth along the backstretch, came five wide into the stretch, and overtook Strapping Groom at the sixteenth-pole under Cornelio Velasquez's drive.


Trainer Linda Rice, who claimed Palace for $20,000 on behalf of owner Antonino Miuccio, said she has planned a winter campaign for the 4-year-old son of City Zip.


"This fall I was plotting his spots, I had more time than I wanted between the Chowder's First and the Hudson," said Rice. "I'm leaning in favor of running this Saturday because I don't want him to have too much time between races, with the [Grade 3] Toboggan on February 1."


Palace, the 7-5 morning-line favorite, will leave post 6 with Velasquez again in the irons.


In addition to Palace, Rice entered Frazil and Abra in the Gravesend.


Frazil defeated three horses when he won the 2011 Gravesend but is winless in 11 starts since that race. He has finished second four times during that span, including three of his past four starts. He enters the 2013 Gravesend off a second, beaten 6 ¾ lengths, in a starter allowance/optional claimer on November 21 at Aqueduct.


"He won the Gravesend two years ago, and he hasn't quite yet gotten back to that form," said Rice, who also owns Frazil. "He seems to like Aqueduct, although it's a tall task for him. Maybe he's just in for a check, but a check's good. He's been a fun horse to have. I've had him since he was a 2-year-old, and he seems to be rounding back into better form now."


Jose Ortiz will ride Frazil, 10-1, for the first time in the Gravesend. The duo will depart from post 2.


In his two most recent starts, front-running Abra won a starter allowance/optional claimer by a half-length in November and was fourth by three lengths in an optional claimer on December 8 at Aqueduct. Abra was claimed for $15,000 in July by Rice and owner Mulberry Stable in July.


"I thought there might be a lack of pace in the race, so I threw Abra in there," said Rice. "If there is a lack of pace, then it might be good for him."


Abra likely will be joined up front by Strapping Groom, who posted a 15-1 upset in the Grade 1 Forego, which was contested in the slop in August at Saratoga. Since then, he has finished third in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational in September and fourth in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap in October at Belmont prior to his runner-up performance in the Fall Highweight.


Trainer David Jacobson owns Strapping Groom in partnership with Drawing Away Stable. In addition to the Forego, Strapping Groom also has won the Lion Cavern and Kid Russell overnight stakes since being claimed for $35,000 by Jacobson and Drawing Away.


Junior Alvarado will ride Strapping Groom, the 2-1 second choice on the morning line, from post 4.


The field also includes Battier, third in the Time for a Change overnight stakes on December 1 at Aqueduct, and stakes winner Broad Rule, third in the Damitrius on September 4 at Delaware Park.



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