11/28/2013 3:54PM

Aqueduct: Palace rallies to win Fall Highweight Handicap

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Joe Labozzetta/NYRA
Palace, under Cornelio Velasquez, wins the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap by 1 1/2 lengths.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – City Zip may go down as the best horse Linda Rice will ever train. That’s why it was so gratifying to her when one of his sons – who Rice took a chance on claiming 13 months ago – won Thursday’s Grade 3, $300,000 Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct.

Palace, whom Rice took in October 2012 for $20,000, rallied past Grade 1 winners Strapping Groom and The Lumber Guy in the final furlong of Aqueduct’s stretch to win the Fall Highweight by 1 1/2 lengths. Strapping Groom, the Forego winner, held second by a half-length over The Lumber Guy, the 2012 Vosburgh winner. Caixa Eletronica, last year’s Fall Highweight winner, was fourth and was followed in the order of finish by Sage Valley, the 2-1 favorite, Saturday’s Charm, B Shanny, and Jake N Elwood.

The win was the eighth from 14 career starts for Palace and seventh from 10 starts since Rice claimed him on behalf of owner Antonio Miuccio for $20,000 off of Bill Mott and WinStar Farm. Palace entered the Fall Highweight off a pair of stakes victories in races restricted to New York-breds. Rice said the fact Palace was by City Zip – with whom Rice won eight stakes, including the Grade 1 Hopeful in 2000 – played a role in her claiming him.

“It is quite gratifying and it’s pretty exciting, and the fact he’s a son of City Zip who was such a tremendous racehorse makes it even really cool for me,” Rice said following the race.

Under Cornelio Velasquez, Palace raced in fifth position down the backstretch, while Jake N Elwood set fractions of 22.35 seconds for the quarter and 45.51 for the half-mile while being chased by Strapping Groom and The Lumber Guy.

Turning into the stretch, Velasquez guided Palace to the outside and, under 129 pounds, Palace gradually persevered by Strapping Groom, the 135-pound highweight, and The Lumber Guy, under 133 pounds, to get the victory.

“He broke good, I stayed in my position, I followed” Strapping Groom, Velasquez said. “At the top of the stretch, I put him in the clear and I had a lot of horse.”

Palace covered six furlongs in 1:09.82 over a main track labeled good and returned $7.40.

Rice said Palace, who had shown speed earlier in his career, now relishes being a come-from-behind sprinter.

“Now that we figured that out, he’s doing great,” she said.

Though Strapping Groom lost his third straight race since winning the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga, trainer David Jacobson was pleased with the performance.

“He’s on the improve again; I was getting a little worried about him because his last couple of races were a little disappointing,” Jacobson said. “This is a great race. They were right on him.”