Works Help Pletcher Sort Belmont Prospects
Photo: Mathea Kelley
Palace Malice
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Palace Malice led a sizable contingent of trainer Todd Pletcher's Belmont Stakes (gr. I) contenders working at Belmont Park May 27 with an eye-catching five-furlong breeze on the main track.

Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice was timed in 1:00.24 for five furlongs shortly after the renovation break in his penultimate workout for the June 8 Belmont. The time was the seventh swiftest of 28 at the distance on the morning.

Pletcher, who could have five starters in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, caught the Toyota Blue Grass runner-up galloping out a mile in 1:38 3/5. Palace Malice, who was 12th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), finished several lengths ahead of his workmate, Micromanage (1:01.17). The latter colt was withdrawn from consideration for the Belmont by owner Mike Repole.

Arkansas Derby (gr. I) winner Overanalyze  , who breezed five panels in 1:00.77 in company with Caixa Eletronica, will represent Repole in the Belmont. The owner could also have maiden winner Midnight Taboo and the multiple graded stakes-winning filly Unlimited Budget in the lineup. Midnight Taboo and Unlimited Budget drilled in company Monday, each timed in 1:00.68 for their respective five-furlong breezes.

Repole said Micromanage would be pointed to the Easy Goer Stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

"Right now I'd say Overanalyze is 100 percent (for the Belmont) if everything stays right, Unlimited Budget is 75 percent, and Midnight Taboo 60 percent," said Repole. "It's a tough decision. Midnight Taboo has done nothing to say not to run. With Unlimited Budget, do you run against Dreaming of Julia (in the grade I Mother Goose June 22) or do you run against the boys? We'll do what's right for the horse."

Pletcher's other Belmont prospect, WinStar Farm's Revolutionary, was third in the Kentucky Derby. The Louisiana Derby winner (gr. II) went out at 6 a.m. and breezed a half-mile in :48.55 under jockey Javier Castellano.

"I thought everyone worked very well," said Pletcher. "I think Palace Malice worked unbelievably well. To me, it was a monstrous gallop-out.

"I thought it was a typical work from Overanalyze," he added. "He's not an overzealous work horse. You kind of have to encourage him a little bit. I think when Johnny encouraged him, he responded well.

Pletcher said Unlimited Budget's workout "was similar to what we saw at Churchill. She's a little better when she works on the outside. I thought her work last week was particularly strong. This week wasn't quite as strong, but I think switching her to the outside next time you'll see her a little stronger.

"Midnight Taboo continues to train really well," he added. "If he gives us another breeze like he did today and last week, I think he has (worked himself into the race). He's a horse you can see getting better and better every work and every race."

Pletcher said of Revolutionary: "Right after the Derby, we talked to Elliott (Walden of WinStar Farm) and we decided to skip the Preakness (gr. I) and go to the Belmont. My gut reaction was this horse doesn't need a lot of training, we'll give him two half-miles and run. Last week, he was doing so well, I contemplated giving him three breezes, but I decided to stick to my original plan.

"I'm really happy with the way he went this morning. I think he's maintained his fitness really, really well."

Pletcher said the jockey situation for the Belmont horses remains somewhat in flux.

"We're still in the process of firming it up," he said. "We've got Mike Smith to ride Palace Malice, Johnny (Velazquez) is holding the race for (one of ours), we have Javier (Castellano) on Revolutionary, Garrett Gomez is riding one, and we'll see what Rosie Napravnik's situation is."

Napravnik is currently named to ride the Bob Baffert-trained Code West, winner of an allowance race at Pimlico Race Course on Preakness Day, in the Belmont.
 

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