Well-regarded juvenile Palace Malice won as a 1-5 shot should in Saratoga's 7TH race on Saturday, and in the process, became the first U.S. winner sired by two-time Horse of the Year Curlin. Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Javier Castellano, the Dogwood Stable colt stalked a ferocious pace, smoothly gained command turning for home, and pulled away to score by a comfortable 3 1/2 lengths.
According to NYRA, Pletcher indicated that Palace Malice would now aim for the Grade 2 Hopeful on Labor Day.
Palace Malice was heavily favored here in light of his gallant defeat on debut. Unveiled in a five-furlong dash at Belmont Park July 5, he came up just a half-length shy of a buzzsaw in Carried Interest, who blazed in :56 3/5. Carried Interest is expected to be a main contender in next Sunday's Grade 2 Saratoga Special.
Not only was Palace Malice a logical next-out winner off that performance, but the $200,000 Keeneland April two-year-old in training purchase has also been working in company with older stablemate Rule. That Grade 2-winning millionaire was set to run later Saturday in the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap.
Palace Malice settled into third early as a speed duel broke out. Hightail reeled off a blazing opening quarter in :21 4/5, under severe pressure from Apex. By the time the duelists rounded the far turn, Palace Malice was launching his bid.
Putting his head in front through a half-mile in :44 3/5, Palace Malice put the race to bed at the top of the stretch and kept on to complete 6 1/2 furlongs on the fast track in 1:16 2/5. The fans' pick paid $2.70, $2.30 and $2.10. Apex eventually mastered Hightail by a a length for second.
Bred by W.S. Farish in Kentucky, Palace Malice is out of the stakes-winning Royal Anthem mare Palace Rumor. She is herself a half-sister to multiple stakes winners Maya's Storm and Jumpifyoudare. This is the immediate family of Grade 1-winning millionaire Rail Trip, most recently successful in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap and a candidate for the Grade 1 Pacific Classic August 26.
Palace Malice joins Curlin's previous winners abroad. In addition to the Russian-based pair of Lucky First and Zimniy Dvorets, he has sired English maiden winner Savanna La Mar, who finished second in the July 26 Star Stakes at Sandown.
A son of outstanding sire Smart Strike, Curlin did not race at two, but went on to reign as Horse of the Year at both three and four. During his sophomore campaign in 2007, he prevailed in the Breeders' Cup Classic, Preakness, Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, Grade 2 Arkansas Derby and Grade 3 Rebel. Curlin also just missed to Rags to Riches in the Belmont Stakes and placed third in both the Kentucky Derby and Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.
Curlin successfully defended his Horse of the Year crown the following year. Hero of the Group 1 Dubai World Cup in his major early-season goal, he added the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap, Grade 1 Woodward and a repeat win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup to his resume. Curlin attempted turf, finishing second in the Grade 1 Man o' War, and Santa Anita's synthetic Pro-Ride, winding up a subpar fourth in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Classic.
Retired as North America's all-time leading money earner with $10,501,800 in the bank, Curlin compiled a 16-11-2-2 record. He was produced by the unraced Deputy Minister mare Sherriff's Deputy, and hails from the family of champion Countess Diana and multiple Grade 1 victress Exogenous, among others.
The eight-year-old Curlin stands at Lane's End near Versailles, Kentucky, for $40,000, stands and nurses.