10/19/2013 5:32PM

Belmont Park: Palace delivers as favorite in Hudson Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
Palace (left) scored a 1 1/4-length victory over Moonlight Song in the Hudson Handicap on Saturday.

ELMONT, N.Y – Palace, claimed from a maiden win for $20,000 here last October, added Saturday’s $150,000 Hudson Handicap to his growing list of accomplishments for Linda Rice, who was saddling her second stakes winner on the Empire Showcase Day program.

Palace, the co-highweight at 119 pounds along with last year’s winner, Mine Over Matter, was eased off the rail soon after the start by Cornelio Velasquez and was content to race behind B Shanny and Cay to Pomeroy as they dueled through fractions of 22.41 and 45.62 seconds, with Moonlight Song sat perched just outside.

Moonlight Song wrested command turning for home and opened a clear lead approaching midstretch while beginning to drift out, and Palace wore him down late despite being carried out to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths.

“Jose [Ortiz on Moonlight Song] had a lot of horse in the stretch, but my horse ran hard the last part of the race,” Velasquez said. “I had the best horse in the race. He’s a very good horse, and I had a lot of confidence.”

Palace ($6) is a 4-year-old son of City Zip, a five-time stakes winner for Rice. The favorite ran six furlongs in 1:08.97, 0.37 seconds off the stakes record set by Wire Me Collect in 1997, and improved to 6-2-0 from nine starts for Rice over the past 12 months.

“He really flourished over the winter,” Rice said. “I trained his father, and he was a special horse. I thought I could see the same things in [Palace]. He bled through Lasix on me. I turned him out for a couple of months, and when I brought him back, he was just taking a little longer to get back into shape than I thought. He was a little heavier than anticipated, but I just knew there was something special under the hood, and he shows it each time.”

Moonlight Song was clear for second in his stakes debut by 2 1/4 lengths over B Shanny.  Mine Over Matter trailed to the stretch and was another 3 1/4 lengths back in fourth. The top four all were making their first starts since August.

Cay to Pomeroy and Night Maneuver completed the order of finish.