Palace Malice returns to face stiff competition in Diablo

December 10, 2019

ELMONT, N.Y. - Having missed last Saturday's Grade 3 Westchester due to a bruised foot, 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice will now make his 2015 debut facing an accomplished field of opponents in Sunday's $100,000 Diablo stakes at Belmont Park.

Trained by Todd Pletcher for Dogwood Stable and Three Chimney's Farm, Palace Malice last raced in August at Saratoga Race Course, where he was sixth in the Grade 1 Whitney after traveling wide on both turns. Trainer Todd Pletcher is hopeful that the Diablo will be enough to move the 5-year-old Palace Malice towards a successful defense of his title in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap on June 6.

"He's been good, we just had the one little hiccup where he unfortunately had a little foot issue when we were in the Westchester," said Pletcher. "Fortunately, it was a temporary setback. We're in a race that's probably a little short of an ideal distance for him, but we're hoping to get a race in and move forward for the Met [Mile]."

Listed as the 7-5 morning-line favorite, Palace Malice will depart from post position 6 with Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez aboard.

A pair of familiar foes looking to upset the plans for Palice Malice are Up Hill Stable's Clearly Now and Antonino Miuccio's Palace.

Trained by Brian Lynch, Clearly Now is looking to rebound off a troubled trip in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack on April 4, when he finished seventh. The 5-year-old dark bay horse last faced Palace Malice in last year's edition of the Met Mile, where he finished fifth. He has two wins from three starts at six furlongs and set the Belmont Park track record at seven furlongs going 1:19.96 in the Grade 3 Belmont Sprint Championship last July.

With Javier Castellano in the irons, the duo will leave from post 8.

Linda Rice trainee Palace, a 6-year-old horse by City Zip most recently finished fifth in the Carter. Last year, he was one of the foremost older sprinters in the nation, winning the Grade 1 Forego and Grade 1 Vanderbilt at Saratoga.

"He's training well," said Rice, "I wanted to give him a little more time after the Carter. I might have set the bar a little high for him in the Carter, off the bench but I'm hoping he bounces back in the Diablo.

Palace, the 3-1 morning-line second choice will break from post 2.

Trainer David Jacobson will enter a talented trio in Classic Salsa, Stallwalkin' Dude, and Tenango.

Classic Salsa, a 4-year-old, comes off a 2 ¼-length optional claiming victory at Pimlico Race Course on May 3, and has four wins in ten starts at six furlongs. Stallwalkin' Dude, a 5-year-old who has won three consecutive races, received a 103 Beyer Speed Figure at Belmont Park on May 1 in an optional claiming race. Tenango, a 5-year-old, last out at Parx encountered a troubled trip to finish eighth in the Valley Forge, but previous to that race collected victories at Aqueduct and Delaware Parx in optional claiming races.

Rounding out the field is Piquant, a 7-year-old by Arch for trainer Richard Stoklosa, winner of an optional-claiming race at Aqueduct on April 16, and Doubledown Again, for Michelle Nevin, who last out won the the Caixa Eletronica at the Big A on March 2.

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