The winners of the past two Belmont Stakes (gr. I) will both make their 2015 debuts in the $150,000 Westchester Stakes (gr. III) Saturday, May 2 at Belmont Park. Belmont Park, Saturday, May 02, 2015, Race 6
Last year's Belmont Stakes winner, Robert Evans' Tonalist , makes his 4-year-old debut after an extended layoff following a fifth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).
The 2013 Belmont winner, Palace Malice , will be making his 5-year-old debut after winning four consecutive graded stakes during his 4-year-old campaign—including scores in last year's Westchester (by 9 3/4 lengths) and the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I)—before finishing the year with a sixth-place finish in the Whitney Stakes (gr. I). Owned by Dogwood Stable and Three Chimneys Farm, Palace Malice hasn't raced since.
Both had been training in Florida until recent works at Belmont. Palace Malice worked four furlongs in :48.05 April 25, while Tonalist breezed the same distance in a bullet :47.44 April 29.
"He had a very good blowout," said Christophe Clement, Tonalist's trainer. "I outfitted him with a pair of blinkers to have him sharp enough, so it's exciting. It's a good race to bring him back, because it's Belmont Park. The big question mark is a mile, so let's run him and we'll go from there. The race will tell you where to go."
Tonalist has drawn the rail with jockey Joe Bravo for the mile dirt test and will carry the co-high weight at 123 pounds. Palace Malice will also carry 123 pounds and break from post 4 with Edgar Prado in the five-horse field.
Palace Malice, is the slight 8-5 favorite on the morning line, while Tonalist sits at 9-5.
"I was very, very happy with his condition and how he looked," said Byron Hughes, assistant to Todd Pletcher, who trains Palace Malice. "He trains very easily over this track and seems to enjoy it here. Physically, he's grown--he's wider, stronger and looks very good."
The other horses in the field are Juba, a 4-year-old allowance winner who is riding a two-race win streak and will be making his stakes debut; Confrontation, who has finished second in three of his past four stakes tries; and Souper Lucky, a stakes-placed runner also making his first attempt in graded company.
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Tonalist (KY) Joe Bravo 123 Christophe Clement - 2 2Juba (KY) Angel S. Arroyo 115 James A. Jerkens - 3 3Confrontation (KY) Rajiv Maragh 115 Barclay Tagg - 4 4Palace Malice (KY) Edgar S. Prado 123 Todd A. Pletcher - 5 5Souper Lucky (FL) Kendrick Carmouche 119 Michael J. Trombetta -
Belmont Park, Saturday, May 02, 2015, Race 6