10/24/2015 3:27PM

La Verdad, Palace win pair of New York-bred sprint stakes

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NYRA/Chelsea Durand
Palace wins the Hudson Stakes by a half-length Saturday at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – This has not been an easy week for trainer Linda Rice.

On Monday, she pre-entered Palace and La Verdad in the Breeders' Cup. On Wednesday, she entered both horses back for New York-bred stakes on Saturday's Empire Classic Day card at Belmont Park.

After considering her options, she kept her horses home. Palace went on to win the Hudson at 4-5, while La Verdad scored an easy victory in the Iroquois at 3-10. The Hudson and Iroquois were each $150,000 races run at 6 1/2 furlongs.

"One thing I've learned in horse racing is that it isn't easy to win," Rice said. "When the right races are there, you have to take them."

Rice now has until Monday to decide whether to enter either horse back on a week's rest in the Breeders' Cup, which takes place next Friday and Saturday at Keeneland.

"I have until Monday to decide whether to take one or both horses to the Breeders' Cup," Rice said. "I'm going to consider my options, but it is more likely that one will go to the Fall Highweight and the other will go to the De Francis Dash."

If Rice skips the Breeders' Cup, it is likely Palace would target the Grade 3, $250,000 Fall Highweight Handicap, a six-furlong race Nov. 26 at Aqueduct that he won in 2013, and La Verdad would point to the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, a six-furlong race Nov. 14 at Laurel Park.

La Verdad is entered in the Fasig-Tipton November sale, but Rice said owner Sheila Rosenblum has just about decided "she can't part with her" and will likely withdraw her from the sale.

Rice's dilemma this week stems from the fact that neither Palace nor La Verdad is perfectly suited to his or her Breeders' Cup options.

Palace stumbled at the start of the July 30 John Morrissey Stakes at Saratoga and "ripped a big chunk of his foot off," said Rice. He missed a few days of training and a workout recently.

He had to work to win the Hudson by a half-length over easier company than he would face in the Breeders' Cup.

"I do think he's capable on a given day of winning a race like the Breeders' Cup Sprint," Rice said. "He's a great horse."

Rice pre-entered La Verdad in both the Filly and Mare Sprint at seven furlongs and the Sprint against males. Neither race is ideal. La Verdad's best distance is six furlongs, and the extra eighth of the Filly and Mare Sprint will test her stamina. The six furlongs of the Sprint is fine, but she will have to face some very quick rivals in that race, including Private Zone and Runhappy.

The ease with which La Verdad won the Iroquois will give Rice something to think about the next few days.

La Verdad relaxed several lengths off a fast early pace in the Iroquois while Women Win and Atlantic's Smile sped a quarter in 21.88 seconds and a half in 44.94. La Verdad readily advanced three wide on the far turn, took the lead in upper stretch, and cruised home with jockey Jose Ortiz gearing her down in the final sixteenth.

La Verdad was timed in 1:15.96 after getting six furlongs in 1:09.48. She won by 3 3/4 lengths and paid $2.60.

"I looked back in midstretch, and when I saw we were okay, I tried to take care of her in case you want to go to the other race," Ortiz said to Rice after the race.

Tricky Zippy, who appeared agitated leaving the paddock and during the post parade, rallied to finish second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Willet in third.

The Hudson was Palace's first win in four starts this year. Last season at age 5, he won both the Grade 1 Vandebilt and Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga.

"This has been a difficult year,” said Rice. “Things have not gone smoothly for Palace. Last year, he proved what he is capable of."

Rice said she ran out of time to "get him ready the way I wanted" for the Grade 1 Carter in April. He finished fifth.

Palace had a throat infection over the summer, then stumbled at the start of the Morrissey and injured his foot. He finished fourth, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the Grade 1 Vosburgh, his race prior to the Hudson.

On Saturday, Palace raced in sixth early as Captain Serious, Ostrolenka, and Weekend Hideaway vied for the early lead through splits of 22.24 and 45.44. Palace rallied wide into the stretch, took the lead outside horses in midstretch, and inched away to the wire to win by a half-length.

Captain Serious finished a determined second, a neck ahead of Weekend Hideaway.

Palace paid $3.60 and was timed in 1:15.68, 0.28 seconds faster than La Verdad in the next race.

Palace will stand stud next year at Spendthrift Farm for a $6,000 fee. He is a son of City Zip, whom Rice trained in 2000-01 and who went on to become a successful sire.

"I'm looking forward to [him] going to stud next year and being the next City Zip, maybe better," she said.