Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, ridden by Mike Smith, took control of the race at the top of the stretch and rolled on to capture Saturday's $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. The 1 1/8-mile stakes is the final local prep for the $1 million Travers on August 24.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Palace Malice, the 6-5 favorite, pressed the pace being set by Moreno in the nine-horse field. Smith had the colt on the outside around the final turn and moved easily to the lead entering the stretch. The 3-year-old then drove to victory and posted a one-length win over 17-1 longshot Will Take Charge.
"This is my town, I love Saratoga," said Cot Campbell. president of winning owner Dogwood Stable. "We've had some great days here and some bad ones, but this was surely one of the best."
Finishing third was Moreno followed by Bashaar, Code West, Looking Cool, Perfect Title, Mylute and Freedom Child. Vyjack was scratched to run in Sunday's Haskell at Monmouth Park.
The time for the stakes was 1:47.37 on a fast track.
The win is the third for Smith in the Jim Dandy with previous victories aboard Chief Honcho (1990) and Awesome Again (1997). Winning trainer Todd Pletcher got his sixth win. He earlier won the Jim Dandy with Graeme Hall (2000), Strong Hope (2003), Purge (2004), Flower Alley (2005) and Stay Thirsty (2011).
Palace Malice now has three wins in nine career races for $1,231,135 after collecting $360,000 for winning the Jim Dandy. He also has three seconds and a third.
Palace Malice was always near the lead in the Belmont Stakes on June 8. The colt, who set the pace in the Kentucky Derby wearing blinkers for the first time and finished 12th, was not wearing blinkers for the 1 1/2-mile "Test of the Champion" and was able to post a 3 1/4-length victory over Preakness winner Oxbow with Kentucky Derby champ Orb finishing third in the 14-horse field.
Earlier this year the colt was third in the Rebel Stakes and seventh in the Louisiana Derby, both at Fair Grounds. He came back to finish second to Java's War in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
"Several times he lost races because he got fouled up," Campbell noted. "He fouled himself up a few times. But I think that's it. He's older, he's a May foal. He's come into his own now. Big days ahead I hope."
Palace Malice returned $4.70, $3.40 and $2.70. Will Take Charge paid $11.80 and $6.10, and Moreno paid $4.30 to show.