Palace Malice and jockey Mike Smith shadowed pacesetter Moreno and charged through the stretch to win the Grade II $600,000 Jim Dandy by a length over Will Take Charge before 25,375 at Saratoga Race Course today, as Moreno held on well for third.
After what was called by trainer Todd Pletcher a breakthrough victory in the Belmont Stakes, Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice now is set up beautifully for the $1 million Travers on Aug. 24.
“I felt like this was maybe his best performance yet,” Pletcher said. “It was certainly extremely professional. Mike said he felt like he had a little something left in the tank coming to the wire, and he was kind of cocking his ears back and forth. Even though the win margin wasn’t huge, it looked like he did it very well. When you’re setting up a race for the Travers, trying to win this race but also trying to continue to move forward, you love to hear Mike come back and say there was a little something left.”
After the scratch of Dayatthespa, Laughing was left as the lone speed in the Grade I $600,000 Diana, and she won it with a front-running effort, holding off Dream Peace by a head.
“She’s a pretty good filly,” trainer Alan Goldberg said. “She had the winter off, she came back well. She ran a pretty good race last time, first time out of the box, and she came out of the race just great. The boss said, ‘Let’s take a shot,’ and we did.”
Favorite Centre Court made a bid at the top of the stretch, but faded to last in the five-horse field. Laughing covered the 1 1/8 miles over the inner turf in 1:47.24, returning $15.80, $6.70 and $3.50.
Outside of Center Court, Samitar tried a stretch rally, but had to settle for fourth. Outside of her came Stephanie’s Kitten, who managed to finish third, a half-length back from Dream Peace.
Earlier in the card, the $300,000 Prioress was won by 21-1 shot Lighthouse Bay by a half-length over Wildcat Lily, giving trainer George Weaver his first Grade I victory in North America. As in the Diana, the favorite — Kauai Katie — faded to last.