03/08/2014 6:33PM

Palace Malice re-rallies late to win Gulfstream Park Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
Palace Malice (right) re-rallies to win the Gulfstream Park Handicap over Uncatpured (center) and Golden Ticket.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Palace Malice proved he was as game as he is versatile, re-rallying in the shadow of the wire after relinquishing the lead to register a well deserved head victory over 2012 Travers winner Golden Ticket in Saturday’s $250,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap.

Making his first start since finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Palace Malice was prominently placed from the outset of the one-mile Gulfstream Park Classic. With jockey John Velazquez aboard for the first time, Palace Malice stalked early leaders Falling Sky and Itsmyluckyday through a 23.34-second opening quarter and 45.46 half-mile. Palace Malice forged to the lead while three wide nearing the quarter pole but lost the advantage when headed by Uncaptured upon settling into the stretch. He then re-asserted himself while racing nearest the rail to outfinish both Uncaptured and Golden Ticket, who had joined the top pair from the outside at midstretch.

Golden Ticket, slowest to begin, rallied wide into the stretch, came up on even terms with Palace Malice in late stretch, but was not quite good enough. Uncaptured, who eased off the early leaders in the run down the backstretch, made a quick move to gain a short advantage approaching the eighth pole before succumbing grudgingly nearing the wire. He ultimately finished third, a half-length behind Golden Ticket.

Itsmyluckyday, making his first start since suffering a season-ending injury in the Grade 3 Pegasus in June, gave way after six furlongs and finished a tiring fourth. Falling Sky, winner of the Gulfstream Park Sprint Handicap in his previous start, stopped badly and finished seventh and last.
Palace Malice, who is owned by Dogwood Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher, completed a mile in 1:33.80, just .67 of a second off the recently established track record, and returned $4.60.

“He pressed solid fractions carrying topweight and was a little wide, they made a couple of runs at him, and he fought back,” Pletcher said. “It was a heck of a horse race and a huge effort off the layoff. Those are good horses, too. You got a Travers winner and a Prince of Wales winner and a runner-up in the Preakness. This was a big race, I thought. He put himself in the game early, which we wanted to do, and ran every step of the way. It’s pretty rare you have a horse who can win the Belmont and also stalk solid fractions and win going a mile in 1:33 and change.”

Pletcher said “everything’s in play” as far as Palace Malice’s upcoming itinerary was concerned, mentioning such races as the New Orleans Handicap, the Oaklawn Handicap, and even the Met Mile as possible options.