The 2013 Belmont Stakes ended this year's Triple Crown slate in unpredictable fashion, with Palace Malice taking the final leg to cap off a brilliant season of horse racing that kept everyone guessing.
Leading up to the race, most of the talk revolved around Orb and Oxbow. That was to nobody's surprise, as the two took the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, respectively. Despite neither ending up in the winner's circle, both horses were in the running coming down the stretch and finished just short.
These three weren't the only horses who made noise on Saturday, as a crop filled with contenders showed up to produce one of the most exciting races of the year.
Let's take a look at the top finishers as well as the full results table from the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes.
All odds courtesy of the Belmont Stakes' official site.
2013 Belmont Stakes Results
|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|
1. Palace Malice
Coming in with 15-1 odds, Palace Malice wasn't exactly sitting in the driver's seat for the Belmont Stakes. With Todd Pletcher striking out in the Kentucky Derby despite having numerous horses in the field, banking on him winning with anyone other than the 9-2 Revolutionary would've been a stretch.
But the 47-year-old Mike Smith rode Palace Malice to victory, using a strong start to put his thoroughbred near the front of the pack early on. In the 14-horse field, he was able to avoid getting into a funk and stuck behind other horses early.
While some horses fell back and others surged forward, Smith kept Palace Malice in the front and held off a surging Oxbow, who was going for his second straight victory after winning the Preakness.
His last test was the surging Orb who finally found the outside, as he was beginning to show glimpses of his Kentucky Derby outing. But Palace Malice found his after-burners, and put Orb and Oxbow away to get in on the Triple Crown party.
Coming in off the Preakness victory, Oxbow came in with 5-1 odds and was a very trendy pick as the hotter horse. And despite Palace Malice running a great race, Oxbow found himself vying for the lead late.
It wasn't as dominating of a performance as the one he posted at the Preakness, where he used a start-to-finish lead to put away the competition, but Oxbow absolutely showed that his win was no fluke by showing up Saturday.
He didn't end up with a win, but the fact that Oxbow won at the Preakness and followed it up with a second-place finish at Belmont marks an incredible achievement for the colt.
It took everything Palace Malice could muster to keep Oxbow from gaining the late edge, and for that, the D. Wayne Lukas horse should be praised.
Everybody knew that there was only one way Orb could win the Belmont Stakes and offer up some redemption for his Preakness defeat, and that was to get to the outside after the final turn.
It was exactly what Orb failed to do at the Preakness, which was why he finished poorly and gave up his hopes of the Triple Crown. He couldn't afford to get stuck in a tight crop of horses again. It was imperative that he got some space late in the race.
And that's just what happened. Jockey Joel Rosario finally saw some light and took advantage, as his thoroughbred bolted past the competition and toward both Palace Malice and Oxbow.
As the two were in a dead heat for the Belmont Stakes, Orb came around the corner and nearly took it in runaway fashion. However, it was just a couple of lengths off for the Kentucky Derby winner.
After brewing so much hope into horse racing after the Kentucky Derby victory for the elusive Triple Crown, it was certainly a solid sight for fans to see Orb finish his Triple Crown season with an impressive run that trainer Claude "Shug" McGaughey can be proud of.