By David Grening
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Going into the Belmont Stakes, Palace Malice was the hard-luck horse, winless in five starts as a 3-year-old, encountering trouble and bad luck at almost every turn.
Everything finally clicked in the Belmont as Palace Malice came home a decisive 3 1/4-length winner for Dogwood Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher.
When Palace Malice attempts to build on his Belmont success in Saturday’s Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga, his chief rival figures to be Mylute, who has endured his share of trouble and bad luck while going winless in four starts this year.
Mylute is the second choice at 7-2 behind Palace Malice (5-2) on NYRA oddsmaker Eric Donovan’s morning line for the Jim Dandy, the local prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Travers here Aug. 24. The Jim Dandy, which shares billing on an 11-race card with the Grade 1 Diana for females on turf and the Grade 1 Prioress for 3-year-old filly sprinters on dirt, drew a field of 10, but Vyjack was cross-entered in Sunday’s $1 million Haskell and could run there.
Mylute, trained by Tom Amoss for GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm, has already faced Palace Malice three times, finishing behind him in the Risen Star in February and in front of him in the Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby.
Mylute finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby. He had a very wide trip, yet still finished with interest. Mylute comes off a third-place finish in the Preakness, but was one of the few horses to make up significant ground against the loose-on-the-lead winner Oxbow.
“I think the Preakness was the best race Mylute has run in his career,” Amoss said. “There was zero pace to run at, still he was one of the only horses to make a strong run against a very slow pace. It was a breakthrough race. When we come into this race on Saturday, I’d like to think it’s going to be Mylute’s turn.”
Mylute, who will be ridden from post 8 by Rosie Napravnik, would benefit from a contested pace in the Jim Dandy. With Dwyer winner Moreno and Peter Pan winner Freedom Child in the field, there should be a strong early pace.
Palace Malice sat just off a hot early pace in the Belmont Stakes before joining the fray leaving the half-mile pole and taking control just outside the quarter pole.