In a thrilling finish to what's been a wildly unpredictable season of horse racing, Palace Malice won the 2013 Belmont Stakes ahead of Oxbow and Orb, who finished in second and third place, respectively, as reported by SportsCenter:
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
As you'd expect from the mile-and-a-half race at Belmont Park, there was an ebb and flow to the action. Frac Daddy, starting off on the rail at No. 1, set a fast pace early, with Freedom Child trailing not far behind.
Preakness winner Oxbow made a strong push midway through the race, taking the lead at one point over Freedom Child while Palace Malice hung behind in fifth place.
By the time the horses entered the final turn, however, jockey Mike Smith unleashed his steed, and Palace Malice thundered out of the turn as if propelled by slingshot.
In the end, Palace Malice won by a comfortable margin, according to Downey Profile:
Palace Malice won by 3 1/4 lengths over Oxbow, with Orb beaten five lengths, Incognito six lengths and Revolutionary 6 1/2 lengths.— The Downey Profile (@DowneyProfile) June 8, 2013
Here's a look at the final standings, courtesy of the official NBC broadcast:
|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|
With this win, Palace Malice became the seventh horse to win at Belmont after running in the Kentucky Derby and then skipping the Preakness.
Fresh legs are needed to conquer the race known as "The Test of Champions." It's tough for horses who ran at Pimlico to turn around a few weeks later and perform at a high level for 12 furlongs.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Palace Malice's 12th-place finish at Churchill Downs wasn't a good sign he'd perform well at Belmont, however. It was the third-worst finish by a horse who then went on to win the Belmont Stakes:
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
The fact that Oxbow finished ahead of Orb for the second race in a row is no small matter. History will show Oxbow's win at the Preakness was "not a fluke," as noted by America's Best Racing:
Which Triple Crown winner's victory was the most impressive?
On a different note, it's safe to say Revolutionary's fifth-place finish, combined with his third-place finish at the Derby, puts him in a category a step below the three winners of this year's Triple Crown races.
With this year's Triple Crown season officially a thing of the past, we'll all have to wait another year to see if there's a horse out there capable of pulling off the holy trinity of horse racing.
For now, however, it's nice to sit back and appreciate Palace Malice's improbable and exciting win.
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