The $1 million Belmont Stakes (G1) is the final leg of American racing's Triple Crown for three-year-olds and the highlight of the New York racing season, contested at the marathon distance of 1 1/2 miles, one complete trip around the main track at Belmont Park. After heavy rains soaked the track all day Friday, just 47,562 fans (a 22% drop from last year) came out to the historic Long Island oval, under sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70's. The track was good at the start of the card but was upgraded to fast during the undercard stakes.
As Kentucky Derby(G1) winner Orb failed to fire in the Preakness (G1), won by Oxbow, racing will have to wait another year for the next Triple Crown winner. Orb, off his disappointing 9th place finish at Pimlico, was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the field of 14. In to challege him inlcluded 5-1 second choice Revolutionary, third in the Derby last out, and 8-1 third choice Freedom Child, winner of the Peter Pan Stakes (G2). Preakness winner Oxbow was all but dismissed as the 10-1 fourth choice on the board.
Palace Malice draws away from Oxbow with Orb on the far outside.
Jockey Alan Garcia sent 30-1 longshot Frac Daddy to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 21.33 and 46.66 while pressed by Freedom Child and Oxbow. Down the backstretch, Oxbow took over from the tired Frac Daddy, getting 3/4 in 1:10.95 and 1 mile in 1:36.47. Entering the stretch, Frac Daddy and Freedom Child tired badly, as 14-1 Palace Malice, who had stalked the pace in fourth the whole way, moved up to take over through 10 furlongs in 2:03.12. Oxbow tried to stay with him to no avail, as Palace Malice drew off in deep stretch to win by 3 1/4 lengths in a slow 2:30.70 over the fast main track. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to late-running favorite Orb third.
Left: Palace Malice in the winner's circle.Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "He was relaxed. It was actually, I thought, for a Belmont, pretty keenly run, first part of the race. But the main thing was, Mike was able to get him to a real comfortable rhythm. The horse had trained really impressively, and we just felt if we could get him into that rhythm, get him relaxed, it wouldn't necessarily matter if he was on the lead, fourth, fifth. Wherever he was, it wouldn't matter as long as Mike had him in that big gallop he had."
Right: Palace Malice parades for the fans after the race. Pletcher added, "It was an emotional win for me because the Dogwood connection. Mr. Campbell gave me an opportunity when no one knew who I was, and I didn't have any horses. They supported me from the very beginning and to win a big race for them is really gratifying."
Left: Palace Malice heads back to the barn. Jockey Mike Smith said, "He certainly got a lot out of the Derby. I meant he went quick enough. And he ran a sneaky race in the Derby. It wasn't like he just folded at the quarter pole and just everybody went by him. I mean, he was actually stealing the race at the 1/8 pole. You take into consideration he never once took, never got a second breath of air running that fast. He ran incredibly well. Today, that's all he did. I mean, it seemed like every ten strides he would just fill up with air again, there he'd start. It's a beautiful rhythm. That's all it was, was getting him into that rhythm. Certainly bred to go the distance. All along, Todd always told me he's got it in him. And he rode the perfect game plan. It ran just like he rode it. I'm just happy to be a part of it."
Right: Jockey Mike Smith and owner Cot Campbell of Dogwood Stable pose with the trophy.
Left: Palace Malice in the post parade.
Right: Palace Malice shortly after the break. Owner Cot Campbell of Dogwood Stable said, "I don't think (the win) will accelerate my retirement. I'll put it that way. And I have cut back. We used to carry 65 horses. We've got 30, 35 now, and I'm going to just play it as it comes along. I enjoy what I do. God knows I've had the most wonderful life a human being could have, and this is a great chapter in it. And so I'm not in any hurry to do anything but keep on doing what I'm doing. As I have said, I don't want to chase any rabbits I can't catch. It's been a great relationship (with Pletcher and we've hit it off, we never had a bad moment, and I'm proud of what he's done. He will go down as one of the great trainers in the history of the game. At least I had the good sense to give him a shot early on."
Left: Second place finisher Oxbow in the post parade. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said, "I was really happy with his performance today. Anytime you could hook into a field with that much parity and that many good horses. He performed as well as we could have expected." Jockey Gary Stevens added, "I thought I was dead midway down the backside. They were suicidal fractions and he never got any break. Midway around the turn, I said, 'Well, maybe.' But I have ridden long enough to know that he was going to walk home the last 1/4 mile. Going into the far turn, I didn't think he would have hit the board. To finish second, I am really surprised. He galloped out after the race like you wouldn't believe. I'm really proud of him."
Right: Third place finisher Orb returns after the race. Trainer Shug McGaughey said, "He made a good run around the turn, but we had given up so much. The speed horses held all up front and we just couldn't catch them. It's been fun. I've got no problems with anything. Everything's fine with me. I just wish we had showed a little better performances in the Preakness and the Belmont. I don't think he got tired. He put a pretty good run in to get to where he was, and those horses just weren't coming back. If they had come back, we'd have been fine. They shook loose and we were just too far back to catch them. I thought there would be some pace. I was a little concerned because we were pretty far back."
The horses break from the gate for the Belmont Stakes. Jockey Joel Rosario aboard Orb, who was 13th for the first 1/2 mile, said "I thought I had a perfect trip. I saw they were going pretty quick up front, and he was handling everything fine. I moved him to the outside like he's done before, but in the end I couldn't even make it up to second. At 1 1/2 miles, they are all going to get a little tired, but he was starting to get late. I felt when he was moving, I was pretty confident like in the Kentucky Derby, but maybe it was the distance, or maybe he was just tired."
Triple Crown quick links:
Oxbow upsets in the Preakness - Oxbow led the entire way in the Preakness Stakes (G1) on Saturday at Pimlico with Itsmyluckyday second and Mylute third. Heavy favorite Orb made a mild move to finish fourth. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
Preakness undercard stakes results - There were 7 other stakes on the card, highlighted by the Dixie Stakes (G2) won by Skyring and the Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (G3) won by Summer Applause. Get the results, charts, and photos for 6 of the races here.
Fiftyshadesofhay wins the Black-Eyed Susan - Fiftyshadesofhay just got up to win the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) on Friday at Pimlico by a neck over Marathon Lady with favorite Emollient 6th. On the undercard, Last Gunfighter won the Pimlico Special (G3). Get the results, charts, and photos here.
Analyzing the Preakness Stakes Contenders for 2013 - My annual analysis using popular angles and statistical trends to see who best matches the profile of a Preakness winner. The big surprise is that Kentucky Derby winner Orb is not in the top group!
Orb wins the Kentucky Derby - Orb was far back early but took the lead in the stretch and drew off to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) by 2 1/2 lengths over longshot Golden Soul and Revolutionary. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
More Kentucky Derby Photos - More photos from the day including more of Orb, the trophy, the roses, Martina McBride, and lots of mud.
Kentucky Derby undercard stakes results - There were 5 other stakes on Derby day including the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) won by 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan and the Humana Distaff Stakes (G1) won by Aubby K. Get the results, charts, and photos for all 5 races here.
Princess of Sylmar upsets in the Kentucky Oaks - She rallied from far back to win the Kentucky Oaks by a half length over Beholder and Unlimited Budget, while favorite Dreaming of Julia was fourth. Get the results, chart, and photos here.
Kentucky Oaks undercard stakes results - There were 5 other stakes on Oaks day including the La Troienne Stakes (G2) won by Authenticity and the Alysheba Stakes (G3) won by Take Charge Indy. Get the results, charts, and photos for all 5 races here.
Kentucky Oaks Entries - A field of 11 fillies will go, with Gulfstream Oaks winner Dreaming of Julia favorite at 3-1 from post 8. Get the post positions, odds, and free past performances here.
Top Kentucky Derby Contenders - my list of the top horses headed to the Derby with profiles for each with photos, stats, and link to more info like past performances and pedigree.
Analyzing the top 2013 Kentucky Derby contenders - My annual analysis of the top contenders to try and select a winner by matching each to the profile of a Kentucky Derby winner using many of the more popular angles and statistical trends. This year there were is a 3-way tie for the top spot: Goldencents, Normandy Invasion, and Overanalyze.
2013 Kentucky Derby And Oaks Security - New enhanced stricter rules will be enforced this year. Be sure to read the rules as many have changed and more things are banned. There will still be magnetic wand searches of all patrons and many things are no longer allowed. Check here to make sure you don't bring anything they will confiscate.
Review: Triple Crown Handicapper 2013 - by Jim Mazur. Includes lots of stats for all 3 races and explains how to use a system of statistically derived negative angles to eliminate the "bad" picks.
Review: Kentucky Derby Greatest Moments - Commemorative DVD from Churchill Downs with video from 27 different runnings along with interviews, photos, and historical info. Definitely recommended for any racing fan!
Review: Churchill Downs - America's Most Historic Racetrack by Kimberly Gatto. An entertaining and informative account of the history of the track and it's most famous race, the Kentucky Derby, with lots of photos. Definitely recommended.