Metropolitan Handicap (G1) Quotes

December 10, 2019

Todd Pletcher, winning trainer of Palace Malice (No. 1): "It's pretty extraordinary to have a horse win the Belmont a year ago and come back and win the Met Mile from the No. 1 post carrying 124 pounds and beating last year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner [Goldencents]. In the process, it's an unbelievable accomplishment."

Where does he rank among your horses all-time?:"He's working his way right up to the top, that's for sure. He can do so many different things effectively. I was very, very concerned when he drew the No. 1 post. That can be difficult to overcome. What can you say about the quality of a horse that's able to do that one year after winning a mile and a half Classic?

"I actually thought he got away pretty cleanly. I thought he got to a really good spot, and then I got a little concerned that he started losing that spot a little bit. Johnny kept a little bit busy on him, and he found that seam later on that he needed."

John Velazquez, winning jockey aboard Palace Malice (No. 1): "When I finally got him through, he started running. He was [hesitant to go through]. The room was there, but I kind of have to keep him busy, keep him busy. The spot was there, but he went to jump from one side to the other one and I almost lost my spot. I got after him again, and he finally got through. Once he got through, he started running. [Out of the gate], the first jump was OK and the second jump he kind of grabbed himself a little. He didn't really bobble, he just stumbled a little bit, just a jump. After that I had to make sure I got him in the race."

Leandro Mora, assistant to Doug O'Neill, trainer of runner-up Goldencents (No. 4): "We needed a little tuneup. This was his first race since he finished seventh in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap] in November at Aqueduct. Too bad we couldn't have a race in between. We did all we could. We're extremely happy. We ran a great second, so we're fine. We're going for the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita."

Mike Smith, jockey aboard runner-up Goldencents (No. 4): "My trip was perfect. Coming off a six month layoff certainly hurt us a bit, but he ran unbelievable. What a race."

Tom Albertrani, trainer of third-place finisher Romansh (No. 12): "We were in a good spot, and I thought Jose had him right where he needed to be. Sometimes the post position is a huge part of the race, and Palace Malice overcame a bit of a tough post to win, but I was still happy with our horse's effort."

Jose Ortiz, rider aboard third-place finisher Romansh (No. 12): "It was a perfect trip. He broke really sharp and I was in a perfect position on the outside just where I wanted to be. When I asked him I had a ton of horse under me. That pace - 1:33 - it worked out for me. Everything worked out for me. We got third, but I'm happy for his race. He's running better and better."

Dr. Larry Bramlage, on-call veterinarian, on fourth-place finisher Shakin It Up (No. 13), who was vanned off: "He pulled up past the wire. The jockey felt him to be uneven and he was lame in the left front. Dr. Verderosa [NYRA chief examining veterinarian) examined him. They didn't splint him or anything. He has no instability or external swelling They just gave him a ride home in the ambulance to further examine him to be sure there wasn't anything wrong. He wasn't perfect when he pulled up, but he's getting examined right now."

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