Palace Malice broke free down the final stretch to win Saturday's 145th running of the Belmont Stakes by three-and-one-quarter lengths, followed by Preakness winner Oxbow and Kentucky Derby champion Orb, respectively, to round out those who finished in the money at Belmont Park.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith got the winning mount, as Palace Malice was consistently near the lead throughout the race and exploded beautifully down the final few furlongs in registering a time of 2:30.70.
It marked the second Belmont triumph for both Smith and trainer Todd Pletcher, who had four other entries in the race.
Below is an overview of the results from the action in Elmont, New York:
|1||12||Palace Malice||Mike Smith||Todd Pletcher|
|2||7||Oxbow||Gary Stevens||D. Wayne Lukas|
|3||5||Orb||Joel Rosario||Shug McGaughey|
|4||6||Incognito||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Kiaran McLaughlin|
|5||9||Revolutionary||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher|
|6||13||Unlimited Budget||Rosie Napravnik||Todd Pletcher|
|7||3||Overanalyze||Johh Velazquez||Todd Pletcher|
|8||11||Vyjack||Julien Leparoux||Rudy Rogriguez|
|9||14||Golden Soul||Robby Albarado||Dallas Stewart|
|10||10||Will Take Charge||Jon Court||D. Wayne Lukas|
|11||4||Giant Finish||Edgar Prado||Anthony Dutrow|
|12||8||Midnight Taboo||Garrett Gomez||Todd Pletcher|
|13||2||Freedom Child||Luis Saez||Tom Albertrani|
|14||1||Frac Daddy||Alan Garcia||Ken McPeek|
After coming in 12th place in the Kentucky Derby, Palace Malice did not run in the Preakness and thus came in as a fresh, viable long shot at 15-1 odds.
ESPN Stats & Info highlighted the stark contrast between those performances with regard to the Belmont Stakes' renowned history:
Pletcher surmised afterward that the perceived setback in Louisville may have been just what Palace Malice needed to thrive in this bid for a Triple Crown win, as documented by America's Best Racing on Twitter:
The experience of Smith in the saddle definitely helped, as he joined Oxbow's jockey in Gary Stevens as the year's second Hall of Fame jockey to win a Triple Crown race.
It was a fast pace throughout, which was initially set on the fast, 1.5-mile track by Frac Daddy. However, unlike at Churchill Downs when Palace Malice faded down the stretch after holding the early lead, Smith figured out how to handle him properly this time around.
Relaxation and the steady hands of Smith were key, according to Pletcher (h/t America's Best Racing):
When the rest of the pack slowed in the second half of the race, it was time for Smith to make his move, and even the typically speedy Oxbow and a late charge by Orb could not stop him.
Here is a look at the payouts for the top three competitors:
|Palace Malice ||$29.60||$11.20||$6.70|
|Orb||— ||— ||$3.90|
$2 Exacta: (12-7) paid $323.50; $2 Trifecta: (12-7-5) paid $931.00; $2 Superfecta: (12-7-5-6) paid $20,602.00.
The threat of an individual Triple Crown winner evaporated after Oxbow's win at the Preakness, and Palace Malice prevented both prior champions in horse racing's marquee showcases from finding the winner's circle.
When Pletcher won the Belmont Stakes in 2007 with filly Rags to Riches, it lifted the scrutiny he previously faced before notching his maiden Triple Crown victory. This time around, he was able to enjoy it more, per America's Best Racing:
Palace Malice made sure the world knew of his achievement in the Run for the Carnations immediately after the race:
It remains to be seen which three-year-old emerges as the best for the remainder of the season, but the electric move to the finish by Palace Malice certainly capped off the Triple Crown slate in magnificent fashion.