|2012||KEEAPR||36||2||$200,000||Dogwood Stable||Niall Brennan Stables|
|2011||KEESEP||1528||Y||$25,000||Colin Brennan, agent||Lane's End|
Gulfstream Park H. (gr. II)
GULFSTREAM PARK H. (gr. II), Gulfstream Park, March 08, 2014, $250,000 Guaranteed, value of race $250,000, 4 yo's & up, 1 mile, 1:33.80 Dirt FT.
(Bay Colt ,
Curlin Palace Rumor , by Royal Anthem
BW. S. Farish , KY ; ODogwood Stable ; TTodd A. Pletcher
(Dark Bay or Brown Horse ,
Speightstown Business Plan , by Deputy Minister
BWinStar Farm, LLC , KY ; OMagic City Thoroughbred Partners ; TKenneth G. McPeek
(Dark Bay or Brown Colt ,
Lion Heart Captivating , by Arch
BWilliam D. Graham , ON ; OJohn C. Oxley ; TMark E. Casse
Belmont S. (gr. I)
BELMONT S. (gr. I), Belmont Park, June 08, 2013, $1,000,000 Guaranteed, value of race $1,000,000, 3 yo, 1 1/2 miles, 2:30.70 Dirt FT.
(Bay Colt ,
Curlin Palace Rumor , by Royal Anthem
BW. S. Farish , KY ; ODogwood Stable ; TTodd A. Pletcher
(Bay Colt ,
Awesome Again Tizamazing , by Cee's Tizzy
BColts Neck Stables LLC , KY ; OCalumet Farm ; TD. Wayne Lukas
(Bay Colt ,
Malibu Moon Lady Liberty , by Unbridled
BStuart S. Janney, III LLC & Phipps Stable , KY ; OJanney, III, Stuart S. and Phipps Stable ; TClaude R. McGaughey III
Margins: 3¼, 1¾, 1 . Others: Incognito 126 ($60,000) , Revolutionary 126 ($30,000) , Unlimited Budget 121 , Overanalyze 126 , Vyjack 126 , Golden Soul 126 , Will Take Charge 126 , Giant Finish 126 , Midnight Taboo 126 , Freedom Child 126 , Frac Daddy 126 . Winning Jockey, Mike E. Smith.
Belmont S. Recap
In the Derby and Preakness, we saw how names such as Phipps, Janney, and McGaughey, and Lukas and Stevens, whose major accomplishments were believed to be in the past, came together to weave a stunning tapestry of the Turf, as fresh and contemporary as if it had been crafted in their younger days.
Go back to May 1990. The founder of racehorse syndicates, 62-year-old Cot Campbell, stands in his box at Pimlico and shouts at the top of his lungs, “Go on with him!...Go on with him!...Go on with him!” As his colt, Summer Squall, crosses the finish line, defeating Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled in the 115th Preakness Stakes, Campbell utters a few impious words and unleashes a flurry of left hooks into an invisible
“Wasn’t that great?” he asks no one in particular. “Oh, boy, I’m so glad for all of us. If this doesn’t make everyone happy, nothing will. I’ll never forget this moment. It’ll take about three months for it to sink in.”
Now go back to June 2007. Perennial leading trainer Todd Pletcher, burdened with an 0-for-28 record in Triple Crown races, stands in his box at Belmont Park and shouts at the top of his lungs, “Come on, baby!...Come on, baby!” while unleashing a flurry of eight short jabs into that same invisible opponent. As his filly Rags to Riches crosses the finish line a neck in front of budding superstar Curlin in the 139th Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Pletcher flings his fist in the air and kisses his wife, Tracy, knocking her hat off.
Normally, those moments would remain frozen in time in some hallowed corner of one’s memory. But this is Thoroughbred racing, where rejuvenation is part of the natural order.
So, on to June 8, 2013. Campbell, now 85, and Pletcher, with a long-awaited Kentucky Derby victory now added to his extensive résumé, stand in their respective boxes at Belmont Park. Both simultaneously break into their theatrical repertoires as Palace Malice, trained by Pletcher and owned by Campbell’s Dogwood Stable, draws clear of his opponents, including Derby winner Orb and Preakness winner Oxbow, to win the 145th Belmont Stakes.
The sire of Palace Malice: Curlin, the horse whom Pletcher had defeated six years earlier with Rags to Riches.
For Pletcher, this one was especially gratifying, as it was for Campbell, who was one of the trainer’s earliest clients when Pletcher went out on his own after a number of years as assistant to Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. The horse who finished second to Palace Malice in the Belmont: Oxbow, trained by D. Wayne Lukas.
It should also be noted that Pletcher’s first major impact on the classics came in 2000 when he finished third in the Kentucky Derby. The horse who gave him his first classic placing: Dogwood Stable’s Impeachment.
Both owner and trainer have added their own chapters to the annals of the Triple Crown, but they will be the first to tell you it’s all about the horse, and if ever a horse deserved to bask in the limelight on the classic stage, it is Palace Malice, who has persevered through bad trips, failed equipment changes, altered schedules, and four jockey changes since late February.
Palace Malice’s story actually begins well before he was even born and demonstrates the intricate network of events that dictate the course one takes in life, even to the extent of being born. In the case of Palace Malice, it was a simple but fateful decision by Burl McBride, the trainer of the colt’s dam, Palace Rumor, that led Palace Malice to the winner’s circle of the Belmont Stakes.
On Nov. 5, 2005, McBride shipped his 2-year-old filly Palace Rumor from his barn at Ellis Park to Churchill Downs to compete in a 11/16-mile allowance race on the grass, sending her to the barn of his friend Hal Wiggins.
Palace Rumor, a daughter of Royal Anthem, had been purchased as a weanling at the Keeneland November sale for $8,000, then was pinhooked the following year to the Keeneland September yearling sale, where she sold as Hip No. 4602 for a meager $5,000 to McBride, representing Corbet Bryant Jr. and Tim Gavin.
Making the fifth start of her career in the Churchill allowance race, Palace Rumor, who had broken her maiden by 51/2 lengths at Kentucky Downs, rallied from 11th to finish fifth. McBride was about to van her back to Ellis Park after the race but had second thoughts and decided to keep her at Churchill overnight.
“I ran her that day and she had a real tiring race, so I said, ‘You know what, I’m just gonna let her rest and spend the night at Churchill, and I’ll take her back in the morning,’ ” McBride said. “I had borrowed a stall from Hal to run her out of, and I just kept her there that night.”
At around 2 a.m., McBride received a phone call and was told his barn at Ellis Park was gone. A tornado had ripped through the backstretch, destroying six barns. Most of the trainers had shipped out, either to Churchill or other tracks, but McBride was one of the few who still had horses there.
Of McBride’s seven horses, three were dead and four were so badly injured that none of them ever raced again. It was a devastating blow. In a heartbeat McBride was wiped out, except for his one 2-year-old filly who had the good fortune of having raced at Churchill Downs that afternoon and the even better fortune of remaining in Louisville overnight.
“That tornado took half the grandstand, too,” McBride said. “Just like that, I only had one horse left. I was ready to quit, but Hal made me come back. If I had hauled her home that night, she’d probably be dead with the rest of them.”
In 2008 Palace Rumor, who went on to win four more races, including Ellis Park’s Audubon Oaks, for McBride, was put in the Keeneland January mixed sale, where she was purchased in foal to Tiznow by William S. Farish for $140,000.
The story doesn’t end there. It was McBride, a former jockey, who took a fellow New Mexican named Mike Smith under his wing.
“I put Mike Smith on horses before he started winning races,” McBride said. “He’s from Roswell, N.M., and I’m from Alamagordo. I quit riding in 1980 and that’s when Mike came around. My agent brought him out when he was a bug boy. He rode some nice winners for me. I was there when he won the Derby with Giacomo, and I was there when he won the Breeders’ Cup with Royal Delta. He’s a good friend of mine. I always called him an illegal alien because he was born in Roswell.”
So, of course, who was given the mount on Palace Malice in the Kentucky Derby and rode him to victory at Belmont?
Mike Smith getting the mount on Palace Malice was just one of many coincidences surrounding this colt.
On Sept. 18, 2011, Palace Malice arrived at Niall Brennan’s farm, having just been purchased at the Keeneland September yearling sale for $25,000. Also arriving from the sale at the same time was a War Pass colt, purchased for $80,000, later to be pinhooked and named Revolutionary. Already at Brennan’s farm, having arrived on July 30, was a Malibu Moon colt, owned and bred by Stuart Janney III and the Phipps family, later to be named Orb.
Those three colts would go on to win the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, and finish third in the Derby and Belmont and fifth in the Belmont.
“Three talented colts in the same group, and we’re just lucky enough to be along for the ride,” Brennan said. “Palace Malice was a May 2 foal, so it was surprising to see him showing his talent so early as a 2-year-old, but (Pletcher assistant) Tristan (Barry) told me when I was at Saratoga he was doing super and was one of their better 2-year-olds. He always did things effortlessly and showed off that talent right away.”
Palace Malice was consigned to the Keeneland April 2-year-old sale and caught the eye of Campbell, who purchased him for $200,000. After a brief stay with Ron Stevens at Aiken for his early training, he was sent to Pletcher.
“He was a high-class horse from the day he got here,” Stevens recalled. “He was very mature, classy, and professional for his age, and he took to everything right away. He was push-button, and it didn’t take a genius to train him.”
Palace Malice, who was bred by Farish, was so precocious, despite being a late foal, he debuted on July 5 going five furlongs and was beaten a half-length by a speedy colt named Carried Interest, who had been yet another 2-year-old at Brennan’s farm.
Around this time Campbell announced he was slowing down and cutting back on syndicating horses from about 65 head to between 30 and 35. Campbell had left a legacy that has changed the entire infrastructure of racing, bringing in thousands of new owners through the numerous syndicates that have followed the path Dogwood Stable started.
“I don’t think (winning the Belmont) is going to accelerate my retirement, I’ll put it that way,” Campbell said. There are few things more distinctive in racing than Campbell’s voice stringing together a symphony of words as comforting as a southern breeze.
“Syndicating horses has always made sense to me, but in the early days the establishment looked down on it a little bit. They thought it was a break from tradition, which it certainly was. And racing was not one to embrace a break from tradition. All I know is that I’m enjoying life. I’m a lucky guy. I’ve had a wonderful, exciting, and colorful life, and I love what I do.”
Accompanying Campbell every step of his incredible journey is his wife, Anne, whose ebullience is contagious. Regarding her husband’s “so-called” retirement, Anne said, “You can retire from a job, but can you retire from a way of life?”
Meanwhile, Palace Malice continued to progress. An impressive maiden victory at Saratoga followed, but sore shins kept him out the remainder of the year.
He returned 51/2 months later to finish a solid second to the quick-footed Majestic Hussar in a seven-furlong allowance race in the slop at Gulfstream. That began a series of races in which the colt was asked to do things few 3-year-olds are asked, and he never as much as flinched.
In the 11/16-mile Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, he was the only horse in the 12-horse field that had never been two turns and he was coming off one sprint in 61/2 months. With Rosie Napravnik aboard for the first time, Palace Malice ran his heart out, only to finish third, beaten a half-length. The Louisiana Derby (gr. II) a month later was a disaster. With Edgar Prado aboard, he was moving strongly and looked like a potential winner, only to get trapped behind horses the entire stretch run.
With not nearly enough points to make the Kentucky Derby field, the only alternative was to run him back in two weeks in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface. This time he had Garrett Gomez up and had to do all the dirty work chasing the brilliant Rydilluc. He managed to take command but apparently became distracted by the tractor tire marks on the track and lost focus, switching back to his left lead. He still battled to the wire but was nipped in the final stride by the late-closing Java’s War. He had lost another race but now had enough points to get in the Derby.
But he once again needed a new rider, and Pletcher obtained the services of Mike Smith, who flew in to work the colt. Following the work, in which Palace Malice wore blinkers for the first time, Smith went into the media center to check the training board and could barely contain his enthusiasm.
“He worked great, but what I really loved was his gallop-out,” Smith said. “Coming back the entire way until I got off him, he wanted to do more. Even when the pony came, I was still trying to slow him down. He’s a strong sonofagun; there’s a lot to him. When I turned him around after the gallop-out, he took off again, and I had to go ‘Whoa.’ I’ll tell you one thing, the farther the better.”
Back at the barn Campbell could start smelling the roses, having previously run second, third, and fourth in the Derby.
“If there are Derby gods, they better get on with it,” he said. “There are more Derbys in my past than there are in my future.”
Unfortunately, the Derby turned into another disaster, as the blinkers experiment backfired badly. Pletcher’s instructions to Smith were to get him out of there and get a good position, but according to Smith, when he did get him out of there, “he was gone.” The colt proceeded to set suicidal fractions that killed off not only him, but every horse anywhere near him.
With the Preakness coming too soon, only the Belmont Stakes was left for Palace Malice to get a little luck and show off his talent on the big stage.
“If he has an absence of bad luck, we’ll be alright,” Campbell said. “I’m not asking for any breaks. I just don’t want any breaks against him.”
The first positive sign was a sensational work and gallop-out two weeks before the race, after which Pletcher said, “I don’t know that I’ve ever had a horse work any better.”
Also working that day were four potential Belmont starters owned by Mike Repole. When asked his thought on the works, Repole said. “My thoughts are I wish I owned Palace Malice.”
On Belmont morning the skies cleared around 6 o’clock and the first patches of blue appeared following a deluge from the previous day’s tropical storm. Pletcher put the final touches on his five-horse arsenal that consisted of Palace Malice, Revolutionary, and the Repole trio of Overanalyze, Unlimited Budget, and Midnight Taboo. With the main track open to Belmont Stakes horses from 6-6:30, Shug McGaughey brought Orb out for a gallop around the dogs on the sloppy, sealed track.
“I’ll be glad when the day’s over with,” he said. “It’s a bit distracting training your other horses. When we were in Louisville and Baltimore, I tried to keep myself focused on my other horses, but you get so wrapped up in the one horse.”
The conclusion of the Triple Crown also meant that Orb’s co-owner Stuart Janney III could finally get a good night’s sleep.
“I’ve probably slept well four nights since before the Derby,” he said. “I’ll wake up at four in the morning and start thinking too much. There’s so much pressure and so many people depending on you.”
Over at Barn 5, Lukas, who had Oxbow and Will Take Charge, sat on a chair in the shedrow and was exuding confidence in both his horses, especially the indefatigable Oxbow, who hadn’t had more than five weeks between races since last October.
“This horse always shows up, and Gary (jockey Stevens) is over the moon,” Lukas said. “They’ll have him to deal with.”
Orb was made the 2-1 favorite, followed by Revolutionary at 5-1 and Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) winner Freedom Child 8-1. Everyone else was double-digit odds, with Oxbow a generous 10-1, along with Overanalyze, and Palace Malice 13-1.
Frac Daddy’s trainer Ken McPeek assured his colt would gun to the front from the rail and if anyone wanted to take him on, he’ll welcome the challenge. Frac Daddy was indeed hustled out of there, followed closely by Freedom Child and Oxbow. Mike Smith broke alertly on Palace Malice, but this time the colt, without the blinkers, relaxed much better and tucked in several paths to avoid going wide into the first turn.
Around the turn and onto the backstretch, it was obvious the pace was a demanding one as Orb and Golden Soul dropped to the back of the pack. The opening fractions of :23.11 and :46.66 were extremely fast to be going 11/2 miles, with Frac Daddy, Freedom Child, and Oxbow getting separation from Palace Malice, who was also going fast but had settled into a good rhythm, with his ears pricked.
“I was keeping a close eye on Gary (Stevens) to make sure he didn’t try to steal it again at some point,” Smith said. “Gary has been known to do stuff like that.”
When the three-quarter fraction of 1:10.95 went up, and with still half the race to go, it didn’t bode well for anyone near the pace. Frac Daddy and then Freedom Child began backing up, leaving Oxbow and Palace Malice to battle it out well clear of the others. Revolutionary had begun his move and appeared to be a strong horse as he charged up into fourth, with Orb launching his bid around horses, losing ground around the far turn.
Palace Malice was the stronger of the two horses and took a half-length lead into the stretch, with Oxbow three lengths clear of Revolutionary and Orb.
“It was like a movie scene,” Smith said. “Gary looked over to me, and I could see his face clear as day. He says, ‘Go on, little brother; you’re moving better than me.’ ”
Palace Malice was moving better than anyone, opening a two-length lead at the eighth pole and then extending it to 31/4 lengths at the wire. Oxbow, in another gutsy performance, finished a clear-cut second, 13/4 lengths ahead of Orb, who finished a length ahead of the regally bred Incognito.
“I’m so proud of this colt,” Stevens said. “I thought I was dead midway down the backside. They were suicidal fractions, and he never got any break. To finish second, I’m really surprised. He galloped out after the race like you wouldn’t believe.”
Revolutionary was unable to sustain his run, settling for fifth. The early fractions did take their toll, as evidenced by the final time of 2:30.70.
Pletcher said this was an emotional win because of Campbell. “He supported me from the very beginning, and to win a big race for him is really gratifying.”
McGaughey said it was a fun ride and he has no problems with the way the Triple Crown played out. He won the race he wanted, but his only regret was not having Orb run better in the Preakness and Belmont.
On the winner’s side there was nothing but joy and exultation.
“I cannot believe this,” said Anne Campbell, who was overcome with emotion. “I’m just so happy for Cot. We knew the horse was capable of doing this. Cot never lost faith in him. Most of the time you’re disappointed, and for this to happen now at this stage of his career it makes it all the more special. And he has not retired. This will give him a whole new life.”
The one disappointment was not having their daughter Lila there.
“Her flight was canceled,” Anne said. “She was on the phone weeping and
Lila watched the race from her home in Atlanta and admits to having mixed
“It was an emotional roller coaster, and I was sick with regret not being there,” she said. “I was standing in front of the TV screaming my head off, knowing this likely was my dad’s last shot at the gold ring. I adore him and am thankful for the life he’s given me. I’m so proud I could bust.”
No one, however, was more excited watching Palace Malice come down the stretch than Burl McBride.
“Oh, my God, I had tears in my eyes when that horse crossed the wire,” he said. “I’ve been braggin’ on that mare for years, and I’ve been braggin’ on this colt. Well, I don’t have to brag on him anymore, because the whole world knows who he is. I can finally shut up. From now on, people can just look at my face and know what I’m thinking and feeling.”
It was only fitting that McBride watched the Belmont at Ellis Park, where this amazing story began so tragically, only to end in triumph nearly eight years later.