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Palace Malice's Return Likely at Fair Grounds

Belmont Stakes winner could make 2014 debut in New Orleans Handicap.

Dogwood Stable's classic winner Palace Malice  is in Aiken, S.C., to be prepared for a 2014 campaign that will likely start in the March 29 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

According to Dogwood, Palace Malice arrived in South Carolina Nov. 8, where he will remain for two months while in the care of Dogwood's Aiken trainer Brad Stauffer. The Curlin  colt who won the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) this year is expected to return to the Todd Pletcher shedrow at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida in early January.

Palace Malice ended his season with a sixth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) with Rafael Bejarano as a replacement for injured rider John Velazquez.

"He ran just about every month, and thrived on it," Dogwood president Cot Campbell said of the colt's 2013 season. "He's a throwback to old time campaigners. His physical exam at Rood and Riddle in Lexington was clean following his unplaced Breeders' Cup Classic run. This is a tribute to a tough horse and a fine trainer in Todd Pletcher."

Campbell said the Fair Grounds race was a better fit for Palace Malice's 2014 debut than the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 8.

"The Donn at Gulfstream comes up too quick but Todd agreed that the New Orleans race at the end of March would be logical," Campbell said.

Campbell said Palace Malice will be trained at specific times while in Aiken so the public can attend the workouts.

"He's a great hero in Aiken, and we are training him and grazing him at specific times so folks can come out and see him. There were many Breeders' Cup parties around here on Nov. 2, but they started going downhill when his rider, John Velasquez, was injured in an earlier race. That was the first indication that it was not to be our day," he said.