08/22/2013 4:00PM

Byron King: Palace Malice can get it done in Travers Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Palace Malice is my selection to defeat Verrazano and Orb in Saturday’s Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – This is a game where even if you’re handicapping well, accurately selecting one-third of the races you pick, that still leaves you wrong two times more often.

And when it came to analyzing the chances of Palace Malice in the Belmont and Jim Dandy stakes, I certainly was wrong in my assessment. In those races, I discounted him for his prior history of coming up short in tight finishes, and in the Jim Dandy, I knocked him for sluggishly finishing his final quarter-mile of the Belmont in 27.58 seconds.

Count me a hater no longer. Palace Malice is my selection to defeat Verrazano and Orb in Saturday’s Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

Although not as flashy on paper as either of his two principal rivals – not having compiled a 6-for-7 record, like Verrazano, or being the Kentucky Derby winner, like Orb – he enters with plenty of positive characteristics in his past performances.

First, form. He probably is second-best in this department behind Verrazano, having won the Belmont and Jim Dandy leading up to this race.

Second, he obviously loves Saratoga, having compiled a 2-for-2 record over the track.

And third, he is perfectly drawn in post 8, giving jockey Mike Smith the opportunity to place the horse in his preferred stalking, pressing position on the outside.

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Although those attributes are apparent in the past performances, he just doesn’t look like the type the public is going to jump all over.

Verrazano, the 2-1 morning-favorite, is sure to get pounded after winning the Haskell by 9 3/4 lengths and earning a 116 Beyer Speed Figure, and the suspicion is that Orb, at 4-1 on the morning line, likely will pass Palace Malice as the second betting choice by post time, having won the Derby at 1 1/4 miles, and with clockers touting his morning drills leading up to the race.

This could leave Palace Malice in the 3-1 range, which would represent fair odds on the Belmont Stakes winner.

Majestic Hussar offers value

A race before the Travers, a full field of 14 was entered for the King’s Bishop, with horsemen eager to take a shot in a Grade 1 race that doesn’t include one of the nation’s elite 3-year-olds.

The late-running Forty Tales, having won 5 of 7 starts, including the Amsterdam Stakes over the Saratoga strip, is the most likely winner and seemingly will be set up well by the abundance of speed in the seven-furlong King’s Bishop.

But against a field as deep as this one, the prospect of backing a late runner like him at his 5-2 morning-line odds doesn’t excite, and he might dip to 2-1 come post time.

From a value perspective, a more appealing prospect is Majestic Hussar, a 10-1 shot who notably beat Palace Malice in an optional-claiming race in January in the slop at Gulfstream.

That race, along with two other victories, are eye-catching running lines in his past performances, with the others being a maiden win at Saratoga last year and his comeback victory in an Aug. 4 optional-claiming race at the Spa.

In the latter race, his first since February, he earned a career-best 98 Beyer and did so after dueling for the lead along the inside.

Many will expect Majestic Hussar to bounce in the King’s Bishop because he’ll be racing on less than three weeks’ rest and will be facing a speedier, classier group. But to me, this horse merely ran back to the fine race he ran in defeating Palace Malice, and having shown that he can win from a stalking position in his career debut, he might not be done in by fast splits in the King’s Bishop.

Expect him to lay within a few lengths of speedster Let Em Shine and pounce turning into the stretch.

Wildcat Lily brings consistency

As in the King’s Bishop, I’m seeking value in the Test, expecting Sweet Lulu to go off as an underlay off a 3-for-3 record and a last-race 99 Beyer.

Admittedly, most everything about Sweet Lulu suggests she is a filly of quality, including her works, which have been classified as “breezing” by California clockers, an infrequent designation there.

But she hasn’t raced on dirt or ever shipped outside of Southern California, potential areas of vulnerability.

Florida invader Wildcat Lily, a former claimer sitting at 6-1 on the morning line, offers the most betting upside. She’s been first or second in seven straight races, including when second in the Grade  1 Prioress on the Saratoga surface. And, having strung together three straight Beyers of 90 or higher, she is consistently quick.

dupa More than 1 year ago
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Forego137 More than 1 year ago
There's alot of talk about Verrazano and it's plain and simple that if pressed on the front end running 1 1/4 miles against this tuff field he will fold like a cheap suit, that will pan out today, as for Orb he picked a very tuff spot to comeback in, IMO Shug should have given him a prep race, the best he will finish today is 2nd, now there's the now horse Palace Malice, he can stalk, has a high cruising speed to stick w/the front runners and can finish, he is proven he can get a distance of ground and his starting to come into his own, he 's ready to deliver on being the best 3yr. old in the Pletcher barn like Pletcher thought early in the yr. It's Palace Malice's time to take over the 3yr. old division today and continue his improvement as the rest of the yr. as he gets older. Palace Malice your Travers winner @ a fat 3-1.
Wesley Wright More than 1 year ago
I agree; he looks like the real deal.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At first glance, today's Travers looked like dead chalk all the way across the board. But the more I keep looking at the form, Verranzo still looks like the winner, but second place may be a little more interesting. War Dancer just keeps plugging away. I know the races are turf, but if he can bring that type of run with him today, he may hit he board and add some $ to the payoffs. Also, alway seem to see the Bernadini colts with good distance results. We have two today in Romash and Transparent and a mile and a quarter may be just what the doctor ordered. If you want to cash some decent exotics, work them into your plan. GOOD LUCK TO ALL TODAY, horses, jocks, and fans. misterbaseball
Eric More than 1 year ago
Great. I liked Majestic Hussar in the King's Bishop. Now I see both Mike Watchmaker and Byron King pick him to win. I think I'm going to have to change my mind. Whenever I pick a longshot, the more people that land on the same horse, the worse it runs. I can probably cross off MH right now.
Robynrokn More than 1 year ago
TVG guy at Monmouth, Tom Cassidy likes MH as well, so you're right, too many "wiseguys" like him. See mom's favorite in the TEST.
Michael Castellano More than 1 year ago
By the way, keep in mind that Monmouth did something to the track surface. Not sure what, but the times lately have been painfully slow after they had a real rabbit track for a long time.
Michael Castellano More than 1 year ago
You are going to get maybe 6 dollars on Verrazano. Seems like he's worth a bet at that price assuming there's a fast track.. They all lose, of course, but having Johnny V. makes that less likely. Of course, if they bet him like they should, just watch and enjoy. I doubt he has a problem with the distance. The Derby is a throw out race if I ever saw one. Only the great ones could have won the Derby close to the pace Smith set.
Carlos More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry guys. I haven't seen a race where VERRAZANO is slowing down at the end. Every single race, he just pass every other horse and wait for them. In the Haskell Johnny V. didn't let him go to sleep. The Derby was SLOPPY and awful. He doesn't like that surface. Other than that, I just don't see any problems with the distance.
Greg Stevens More than 1 year ago
Even his 2 terribly slow 1 1/8 times at 2 different tracks doesn't raise questions? I'll pass on the chalk....
Robynrokn More than 1 year ago
Monmouth tracks running slow, Saratoga is a marble top speedway, Vzano gonna light it up. He's bigger, stronger now.
Scott More than 1 year ago
This would have been a tougher decision for me if Orb drew better in the Post Draw, but I think it couldn't have been much worse. I think he and Palace Malice are the top of the class at this distance and PM drew a perfect post for his style. Orb is probably good enough to finish 2nd, but I somehow think he will land in third. I think Moreno will run a long ways with a slow setup, because Verrazano's draw. Short of Verrazano trying for the lead (which could happen), he'll have to take some time to find his stalking position. PM will press, but I think it will be an easy first quarter of :24 and possible :48 for the 1/2. I think that will allow Moreno to continue running all the way to the end, but he won't hold off the cream of the class and PM will pass him in the stretch. Orb will overhaul the tiring Verrazano in the stretch with about 1/16th to go for third. To be safe box PM with Moreno and Orb. Note: I still love Orb and will be looking for a better post in his next race. This guy is clearly in the top tier of the class and can run all day, but he does need the right position and he just doesn't have it in this race. Verrazano is dangerous at 9F's and with weaker competition probably can stay for 10F's, but this Travers field is really quite good. I wouldn't be surprised to see Verrazano finish 5th or 6th after having a tough run from the inside post. Good luck to all!
AndrewD More than 1 year ago
You think Verrazano will tire before Moreno?
Eric More than 1 year ago
Scott, if you really love Orb, forget about the post position and just bet him. Post Position and Weight are probably the two most overrated factors in horse racing. For a horse like Orb who is going to drop to the back, with a long run to the first turn, it doesn't matter where he starts from. Trust that his jockey will be able to get a good position on the outside of the other horses going into the first turn. You will feel a lot worse if you bet against him and he wins from his bad post than you will if you bet on him and he loses.
Scott More than 1 year ago
Eric, I think that Orb has proven in more than one race that he is not a classic deep closer. In a paceless race, he has plenty of speed to get to the middle of the pack. He proved it again today. By the way, what do you think of my from yesterday? I had the right pace scenario, but was surprised that it was WTC catching the game Moreno. I was lucky to include him in my .10 super box though and profited a nice $200 in the race (I'm a small time player. LOL!)
kwtalk More than 1 year ago
I've actually been thinking Palace Malice myself all day long. He just pops into my head. I hope it's for the right reasons. :)