06/08/2013 8:16PM

Belmont Stakes: Palace Malice emerges from Curlin’s first crop

Barbara D. Livingston
Palace Malice is from the first crop of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin.

Curlin, arguably one of the best two or three U.S. horses of the 2000s, dominated racing headlines during his 2007 and 2008 campaigns, providing racing fans with a handful of superior performances on the track and plenty of intrigue elsewhere as well. The all-time earnings leader in North America, Curlin was naturally highly regarded as a potential standout sire upon his retirement in 2008 to William S. Farish III’s Lane’s End in Versailles, Ky.

Palace Malice’s convincing 3 1/4-length win in the Belmont on Saturday over Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow and Kentucky Derby winner Orb gives Curlin a classic winner from his first crop to race. The bay colt captured one of the few top-level races that his sire fell short in, as Curlin was outdueled by the great filly Rags to Riches in the 2007 Belmont—ironically giving Palace Malace’s trainer Todd Pletcher his first classic win.

It is appropriate that Palace Malice emerged with his breakthrough race as a 3-year-old, as Curlin, by Smart Strike, did not even race until breaking his maiden in impressive fashion in February 2007 at Gulfstream Park. Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stables led a syndicate that purchased 80 percent of Curlin, who is out of the unraced Deputy Minister mare Sherriff’s Deputy, for a reported $3.5 million following that win, and the physically imposing colt went on to win the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby. He then finished third in the Kentucky Derby before taking the Preakness over Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense and coming up just short against Rags to Riches in New York.

In the second half of 2007, Curlin merely became the best horse in training, defeating older horses in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and then dominating in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. In 2008, Curlin more than lived up to Jackson’s stated desire to test his horse against the best competition on hand, winning the Dubai World Cup, Stephen Foster Handicap, Woodward Stakes, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup once again before concluding his career with a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic over what was then Santa Anita’s synthetic Pro-Ride surface.

Curlin’s first winners came in Russia last year and in terms of purse monies, Palace Malice was actually his best earner in 2012, with $62,000. The colt finished a close second in his debut at Belmont last July and then won a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Saratoga in August.

Delving into Palace Malice’s pedigree, the majority of stamina influence arises from his sire’s side, as Curlin won a grand total of five races at 1 1/4 miles (counting both the Dubai World Cup and a handicap in Dubai during spring 2008 at just a shade under that distance) and as mentioned nearly won the Belmont.

Palace Malace’s dam, the Royal Anthem mare Palace Rumor, won the 1 1/16-mile Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park in 2006 but never earned a graded stakes placing and did her best running in the optional claiming ranks. She has had two other foals to race, and both of them have won at a very modest level: the fillies Lady June Bug, who has won three of ten starts, all at 5 1/2 furlongs; and Puritanka, who won in Russia at about six furlongs. 

Palace Rumor is a half-sister to Maya’s Storm and Jumpifyoudare, who both won multiple stakes races at Prairie Meadows at distances ranging from 5 1/2 furlongs to six furlongs. That trio of stakes winners is out of the winning Red Ransom mare Whisperifyoudare, Palace Malice’s second dam. She is a half-sister to Sweet Trip, by Carson City, who is the dam of Grade 1 winner Rail Trip, a hard-trying gelding owned by Jay Em Ess Stable who took the 2007 Hollywood Gold Cup in track-record time for 1 1/4 miles. Rail Trip, who also ran second in the 2008 Hollywood Gold Cup, provides the only dose of classic-distance stamina in the first three generations of Palace Malice’s female family.