11/12/2015 12:56PM

Palace "on course" for De Francis Dash

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Palace should benefit from this win in the Hudson Handicap on Oct. 24, trainer Linda Rice said.

Palace is nearing the end of his racing career and has a stall reserved in the Spendthrift Farm stallion barn next year. But there’s still life in those 6-year-old legs, and he comes into the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park off a stakes win. He will be favored to leave Maryland with another.

Palace’s toughest adversaries figure to be Trouble Kid, a 3-year-old who has won four straight races and is trained by Parx-based Ramon Preciado, and Stallwalkin’ Dude, who finished eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Oct. 31 for David Jacobson.

The six-furlong De Francis Dash, which drew a field of nine, is one of six stakes on a card that begins at 12:05 p.m. Eastern, a half-hour earlier than usual.

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This has not been an easy season for Palace, and the months have clicked by as trainer Linda Rice has addressed one issue after another. He came out of the Grade 1 Carter in April with a throat infection. He stumbled at the start of the John Morrissey Stakes on July 30 and ripped a chunk out of his foot. In the Grade 1 Vosburgh, he rallied to finish fourth, beaten three-quarters of a length, an effort that impressed Rice.

“He went into the Vosburgh off only three breezes and only one good one,” she said. “If he could have got outside, where he likes to be, I think he might have won.”

Palace missed a few more days of training because of his foot problems between the Vosburgh and his half-length win over New York-breds in the Hudson Handicap on Oct. 24.

“He needed a win,” Rice said. “It was a hard-earned effort, so we didn’t go to the Breeders’ Cup, but he should definitely benefit from it. He’s on course for this.”

Palace will race with blinkers in the De Francis.

“I’ve trained him in them a little bit,” Rice said. “He’s a little older and smarter now. They should help us place him a little better.”

Rice claimed Palace out of a $20,000 maiden-claiming win three years ago. He has gone on to win 11 races for her – including a pair of Grade 1s – and more than $1.45 million. Making Palace all the more special to Rice is that he is by City Zip, whom she trained to nine stakes wins in 2000-01 and who has become a superior sire. In the last two editions of the Breeders’ Cup, three progeny of City Zip have won races: Work All Week, Dayatthespa, and Catch a Glimpse.

De Francis Dash, race 10

Key contenders

Palace (Last 3 Beyers: 93-102-89)

◗ In his lone prior trip to Laurel, he finished fourth at 11-10 in the Grade 3 General George in February 2014.

Trouble Kid (Last 3 Beyers: 95-94-93)

◗ Since being claimed for $15,000 in July, Trouble Kid has won a maiden-claiming race, a starter allowance, the Grade 3 Gallant Bob, and the $150,000 Valley Forge.

◗ Following the Gallant Bob, Preciado said Trouble Kid was having a bad reaction to Lasix when he came to his barn, prompting Preciado to reduce the amount of the diuretic that Trouble Kid receives.

Stallwalkin’ Dude (Last 3 Beyers: 96-103-95)

◗ Finished a half-length in front of Palace when third, beaten a neck, in the Vosburgh. He has won 6 of 15 starts this year and just under $500,000.

◗ Stallwalkin’ Dude hasn’t worked since the Breeders’ Cup.

“He races so much, I don’t have to do much with him between starts,” Jacobson said. “I just train him light.”

◗ Although John Velazquez was named at entry time, Trevor McCarthy will ride, according to Jacobson.

Spring to the Sky (Last 3 Beyers: 69-91-84)

◗ He won the Laurel Dash on turf in September. Trained by Bruce Brown, Spring to the Sky makes his first dirt start since he won the off-the-turf Troy Stakes at Saratoga in 2014. He is 2 for 5 on dirt.

Gentlemen’s Bet (Last 3 Beyers: 91-72-80)

◗ The 6-year-old has kept tough company for trainer Ron Moquett since returning from a 15-month layoff in February. He won the Hot Springs Stakes in March.