07/24/2013 3:51PM

Saratoga: Palace Malice takes aim on title in Jim Dandy

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Barbara D. Livingston
Palace Malace will be facing a deep field of nine opponents in Saturday’s Jim Dandy.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – His victory in the Belmont Stakes came at the end of a long, and sometimes maddening, Triple Crown trail for Palace Malice. But his connections hope it is just the beginning of what he will accomplish in his career.

Palace Malice heads a field of 10 3-year-olds entered Wednesday for Saturday’s Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga. The Jim Dandy, along with Friday’s $100,000 Curlin Stakes here and Sunday’s $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, lead to the $1 million Travers here Aug. 24.

With separate winners of each of the three Triple Crown races – Orb in the Kentucky Derby and Oxbow in the Preakness before Palace Malice – the race for the 3-year-old championship is wide open.

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“I guess if he got lucky and won the Jim Dandy it would give him a slight edge on the competition as far as the 3-year-old” title, Cot Campbell, the head of the Dogwood Stable syndicate that owns Palace Malice, said Wednesday on the backside of Saratoga.

Palace Malice’s winter and spring included narrow losses in the Risen Star and Blue Grass Stakes and a brutal trip in the Louisiana Derby.

In the Kentucky Derby, Palace Malice, wearing blinkers for the first time, ran off with jockey Mike Smith and finished 12th after setting very fast early fractions.

“He made dumb mistakes or got unlucky,” Campbell said. “His Derby, as Mike Smith said, was sneaky good in that he hung on after those fractions. It’s been frustrating. He’s always touted himself.”

Todd Pletcher, trainer of Palace Malice, has always been high on the colt and believes Palace Malice has done nothing but improve since the Belmont Stakes.

“If anything, he’s gotten bigger and stronger,” Pletcher said. “It seems like he took that race really well. He’s doing better all the time.”

Palace Malice, a son of Curlin, will break from post 5 under Smith.

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The competition is deep and includes Preakness third-place finisher Mylute, Matt Winn Stakes winner Code West, Dwyer winner Moreno, Peter Pan winner Freedom Child, Iowa Derby winner Looking Cool, Gotham Stakes winner Vyjack, and Rebel winner Will Take Charge. Bashaar, third in the Iowa Derby, and Perfect Title, a recent allowance winner, complete the Jim Dandy field.

On Wednesday, Freedom Child worked four furlongs in 50.23 seconds over Saratoga’s main track. Trainer Tom Albertrani, who postponed the work from Tuesday because of wet track conditions, got the easy half-mile he was looking for, but that was a credit to exercise rider John Manson, who was able to keep Freedom Child from chasing another worker who had passed Freedom Child early in the move.

“It looked like when he broke off he was going to get company right away, but [Manson] did a nice job getting a hold of him and letting him go through the motions,” Albertrani said. “Just wanted to stretch his legs a little bit.”

Code West, trained by Bob Baffert, arrived from Southern California on Tuesday and galloped over the main track Wednesday morning.