Palace Rules Fall Highweight Handicap
New York-bred Palace, claimed by his connections for $20,000 a little more than a year ago, rallied to win his first open stakes, the $300,000 Fall Highweight Handicap (gr. III), at Aqueduct Racetrack Nov. 28 (VIDEO).
Owned by Antonino Miuccio, trained by Linda Rice, and ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, Palace carried 129 pounds en route to his eighth victory in 14 starts. The 4-year-old colt by City Zip out of the End Sweep mare Receivership won a pair of New York-bred stakes in his two previous starts.
Strapping Groom, who carried high weight of 135 pounds in the 100th running of the six-furlong event, finished second. The Lumber Guy (133 pounds) and last year's Fall Highweight winner Caixa Eletronica (132 pounds) finished third and fourth, respectively, with favorite Sage Valley finishing fifth.
The early pace was set by Jake N Elwood, who went an opening quarter mile in :22.35 and a half mile in :45.51 while being tracked outside by Strapping Groom and The Lumber Guy. Jake N Elwood held gamely until mid-stretch, where Strapping Groom grabbed a short lead.
Palace, never far back when rated in sixth in the eight-horse field, split horses on the turn, was guided to the extreme outside by Velasquez, and ran down Strapping Groom to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:09.82 for six furlongs on a track rated good.
The winner paid $7.40, $4.10, and $3.30 across the board. Strapping Groom, winner of the Forego Stakes (gr. I) earlier this year, paid $6 and $3.40, while The Lumber Guy, who was coupled with B Shanny, returned $3.70. The $1 exacta paid $25.75 and the $1 trifecta returned $102.
"I really think he likes sitting off the pace as a come-from-behind sprinter," Rice said. "He seems to relish that, and now that we have figured that out, he's doing great. I was really excited about today's race, because it is quite gratifying."
Rice claimed Palace on behalf of owner Antonino Miuccio out of the colt's fourth start, a maiden race at Belmont Park in October 2012.
"The fact he's a son of City Zip—I trained (Palace's) father, who was such a tremendous racehorse—makes it really cool."
Palace, who also has won on the grass, was bred by The Peter J. Callahan Revocable Trust D. The Fall Highweight victory pushed his earnings to $532,050.
In his stakes debut, Palace defeated The Lumber Guy by three lengths in the Chowder's First overnight stakes in August at Saratoga. He entered the Fall Highweight off a 1 1/4-length score in the Hudson Handicap Oct. 19 at Belmont Park. Both the Chowder's First and Hudson were restricted to New York-breds.
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