Palace Malice in the Met Mile.

Palace Malice in the Met Mile.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Pletcher: 'Half-Length Away from Career Day'

Todd Pletcher reflects on Palace Malice's Metropolitan win and June 7 near-misses.

With a scintillating victory by Palace Malice  in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) and Commissioner 's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) runner-up one of three near-misses in other graded races on the June 7 Belmont Park card, trainer Todd Pletcher said he was "about a half-length away from a career day."

The Pletcher tally on the Belmont Stakes Day card went like this:

Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice split rivals and kicked in to defeat Goldencents  in the Metropolitan; WinStar Farm's Commissioner was caught just at the wire by winner Tonalist  in the Belmont; King of Prussia Stable's Princess of Sylmar's late rally came up short in the Ogden Phipps Stakes (gr. I); Joseph V. Shields Jr.'s Sweet Whiskey was a half-length back of Sweet Reason in the TVG Acorn Stakes (gr. I); and Micromanage  finished a neck back of winner Norumbega in the Brooklyn Invitational Stakes (gr. I).

Pletcher, hard at work early June 8 overseeing his vast stable at Belmont Park, noted, "It would have been an historic day for us," had any of those close finishes gone in favor of his trainees.

As it was, with Palace Malice's win, Commissioner's confirmation of his connections' confidence in him, and the overall efforts by the Pletcher horses made for a very successful day.

"All looked good this morning and seemed to have come out of it well," said Pletcher, North American racing's all-time leading trainer by earnings.

The trainer said the one-length victory by 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice over Goldencents in the one-mile Metropolitan "was an incredible race. It is rare to have a horse that good that can do so many different things."

He said the next race for Palace Malice would likely be the Whitney Invitational Handicap (gr. I).

Pletcher said the game effort by Commissioner in trying to hold off Tonalist "was right up there with one of the tough beats we have had. I knew it was going to be close. I knew if he kept fighting a little more...I didn't need to watch the replay to know he lost the head bob.

"He justified everything we thought about him all along and handled the classic distance (of the 1 1/2-mile Belmont)."

The winner of two of eight career starts, Commissioner had stamped his ticket to the Belmont by finishing four lengths behind Tonalist in the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II). He went off at 28-1 odds under jockey Javier Castellano in the Belmont.

The trainer said Commissioner, a son of A.P. Indy, would be sent to WinStar Farm for about two weeks and then be pointed toward the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga Race Course and Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I) at Monmouth Park.