Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice pressed front-running Moreno from the outset, then took command in the stretch to win the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Mike Smith rode the Todd Pletcher-trained Palace Malice, who ran 1-1/8 miles in 1:47.37 and finished a length in front of Will Take Charge. Moreno was third of nine.
”Everything went absolutely as we talked about it this morning when Mike and I went over the race,” Pletcher said. ”We had a beautiful trip. He got into a good comfortable rhythm down the backside. He relaxed nicely and finished up pretty well in a very, very good time. We got the race over the track.”
The Jim Dandy sets up Palace Malice for what it expected to be a return engagement with Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Oxbow, the Preakness winner, in the Aug. 24 Travers Stakes.
”The horse keeps getting better and better,” Pletcher said. ”Today was arguably his best performance yet. He finished up pretty well and in very good time. Hopefully, on to the Travers.”
The victory was worth $360,000 to the owner, Dogwood Stable, and $4.70 to Palace Malice’s betting supporters.
”It set up really well, but Todd and his connections had him really ready,” Smith said. ”He was better than last time. Those are kind of big words to say after winning the Belmont, but he truly was, and with room to grow.”
Earlier on the Saratoga card, Laughing led four opponents at every call and won the $600.000 Diana Stakes for fillies and mares. The Alan Goldberg-trained 5-year-old held off a late bid from Dream Peace and prevailed by a head. Jose Lezcano rode the winner, who covered 1-1/8 miles on the inner turf course in 1:47.24. Laughing paid $15.80 and earned $360,000 for owner Richard Santulli.
Lighthouse Bay ($45.20) scored an upset victory in the $300,000 Prioress Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, beating Wildcat Lily to the wire by a half-length after 6 furlongs run in 1:09.29. Joe Rocco Jr. rode the George Weaver-trained, Richlyn Farm-owned winner who earned $180,000. Odds-on favorite Kauai Katie finished last of seven.