The third and final leg of the 2013 Triple Crown climaxed in Elmont, N.Y., this weekend, as Palace Malice ran an inspired mile-and-a-half to capture the 145th edition of the Belmont Stakes.
Oxbow, Orb and Incognito followed closely behind as jockey Mike Smith and trainer Todd Pletcher managed to take home the victory at Belmont Park. The outcome marked the third different horse to win a Triple Crown race this season.
ESPN's SportsCenter let the world know of the top three finishers as this year's biggest three-race marathon came to a close on Saturday evening:
BREAKING: Palace Malice wins the 145 Belmont Stakes. Oxbow (Preakness winner) and Orb (Kentucky Derby winner) finished 2nd and 3rd.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 8, 2013
Known as "The Test of the Champion," the final leg of the Triple Crown runs through New York and featured two different champions, Orb and Oxbow, who took home the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, respectively, in the first two races of the Crown.
But it was Palace Malice—who finished in a disappointing 12th after being one of the sleepers at the Derby—who made the turn and never looked back, making trainer Todd Pletcher look like a genius after the decision to take his blinders off was an early storyline at the track.
The three-year-old thoroughbred even tweeted out a personal statement on Twitter after his victory:
I just won the @BelmontStakes— Palace Malice (@PalaceMalice) June 8, 2013
Smith won his second career Belmont Stakes with the victory, equaling his ride on Drosselmeyer in 2010. Smith now has four career wins in Triple Crown races, one each at the Derby and the Preakness.
Here are the final results of the 14-horse field.
|2013 Belmont Stakes Results|
|1||Palace Malice||Mike Smith||Todd Pletcher|| |
|2||Oxbow||Gary Stevens||D. Wayne Lukas||7||$9.90 (Place)
|3||Orb ||Joel Rosario||Shug McGaughey||5||$3.90 (Show)|
|4||Incognito||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Kiaran McLaughlin ||6|
|5||Revolutionary||Javier Castellano ||Todd Pletcher||9|
|6||Unlimited Budget||Rosie Napravnik||Todd Pletcher||13|
|7||Overanalyze||John Velazquez ||Todd Pletcher||3|
|8||Vyjack||Julien Leparoux ||Rudy Rodriguez||11|
|9||Golden Soul||Robby Albarado||Dallas Stewart||14|
|10||Will Take Charge||Jon Court||D. Wayne Lukas||10|
|11||Giant Finish||Edgar Prado||Anthony Dutrow||4|
|12||Midnight Taboo||Garrett Gomez||Todd Pletcher||8|
|13||Freedom Child||Luis Saez||Tom Albertrani ||2|
|14||Frac Daddy||Alan Garcia ||Ken McPeek||1|
*Odds based on $2 bet, courtesy the NBC Sports broadcast.
Frac Daddy set the pace coming around the first turn, followed closely by Freedom Child and Giant Finish. Orb and Oxbow both got off to good starts, but it was Oxbow who found himself in third around the second turn while Orb moved toward the back of the pack.
Oxbow worked his way to the front down the straightaway before the final two turns, and Freedom Child and Palace Malice stayed close in the mix.
Orb and Revolutionary then made their moves coming into the top of the stretch, with Palace Malice grabbing the lead from Oxbow and increasing it over the final few furlongs down the back stretch.
As the two favorites tried to close the gap, Mike Smith and Palace Malice did exactly what Pletcher and company expected him to do at the Kentucky Derby—he held off the rest of the field and turned on enough speed to coast toward the finish line.
Palace Malice is the seventh horse since 2000 to win the Belmont Stakes after running in the Derby and skipping the Preakness. His finish at the Derby (12th) is also the third-worst finish from a horse that went on to win the Belmont (via ESPN's Stats & Info):
Palace Malice: wins Belmont Stakes after 12th-place finish in Kentucky Derby. That is the 3rd-worst Derby Finish by a Belmont Stakes winner— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 8, 2013
Named for the NBA incident between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers back in the early 2000s, Palace Malice is a nod to the fight that occurred between Ben Wallace, Metta World Peace (then Ron Artest), Stephen Jackson and a few other players in one of sports' ugliest scenes to date.
There was nothing ugly about Palace Malice's win on Saturday.
Which winner impressed you the most during the 2013 Triple Crown season?
Early starters Frac Daddy and Freedom Child really faded after setting the early pace, not being able to handle what is the longest race of the three Triple Crown events.
Incognito had a strong run in finishing fourth and was the highest finisher among those horses who did not run in either the Derby or Preakness this year. Revolutionary (third at the Derby) finished fifth, and Unlimited Budget with Rosie Napravnik aboard failed to become the fourth filly to win this race by coming in sixth.
Much of the chatter surrounding the early part of the race was with the two previous Triple Crown winners, Orb and Oxbow, but it was Oxbow who bested the Derby winner for the second straight race, proving once again that completing a three-race sweep is one of the most difficult things to do in sports.
America's Best Racing commented on that matchup following the race on Twitter:
With the Triple Crown season officially over, a new crop of talent will emerge over the course of the next year.
However, it's always nice to appreciate what you have before it's gone, and now is a good time to reflect on what has been an excellent Triple Crown event schedule over the course of the last few weeks.
Follow Bleacher Report featured columnist Ethan Grant on Twitter @DowntownEG