Linda Rice keeps leading Palace out for another challenge, and the 5-year-old she claimed two years ago keeps rewarding her.
Under Cornelio Velasquez in Saturday’s Grade I Forego at Saratoga Race Course, Palace ran a little off the pace through the first half-mile of the seven-furlong dirt sprint, then powered through the stretch to capture the “Win and You’re In” event for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November.
Rice took a shot in the Forego against 4-5 favorite Clearly Now, a colt who seems to prefer seven furlongs and farther, while Palace has run most of his races at six furlongs.
“Palace is just a really terrific talent,” Rice said. “He’s a really talented horse, and when he’s good, I need to use him, because on several occasions, we need to stop on him and turn him out, give him a break. When a horse is training as well as he is, I don’t know how long I can keep him that good. So while he’s good, I wanted to use him.”
Zee Bros and Weekend Hideaway were out front in the early going, and Zee Bros led the fast way around the turn — through a quarter-mile in :22.48 and a half in :45.23 — before both yielded to Palace.
Big Business, a 20-1 shot, closed for second, beating Vyjack to the wire by a neck.
“I wanted to break good and stay in good position behind the speed,” Velasquez said. “I had a lot of horse. When the opening came, I was in good position. I think my horse is the best sprinting horse now.”
“I think this horse likes to stalk behind a fast pace and close; he really enjoys that,” Rice said. “But when you’re going seven furlongs, you really need to use his speed. I think it’s a tactical error to take him back in a slow quarter, going seven-eighths.”
Clearly Now was back several lengths coming around the turn and never fired entering the stretch under jockey Jose Lezcano.
“My horse never got involved in the race,” Lezcano said. “I don’t know what was going on, that’s all I can say. He never jumped today. He was never on the bridle. He just didn’t do anything today.”
Both Palace and Big Business are New York-breds. It was the second Grade I win at this meet for Palace, who also took the A.G. Vanderbilt at six furlongs on Aug. 2.
Rice said the six-furlong Grade I Vosburgh Invitational at Belmont Park on Sept. 27 is the next target for Palace.
SHE’S A SPRINTER
Stonetastic showed trainer Kelly Breen once again she enjoys running six furlongs, recording a front-running win in the Grade II Prioress for 3-year-old fillies.
It was her second straight start at the distance after running primarily route races before a six-furlong optional claiming win by 63⁄4 lengths at Monmouth in July.
She carried jockey Paco Lopez through fractions of :22.27 and :44.75 before finishing in 1:08.88 and 81⁄2 lengths ahead of runner-up Miss Behavior.
“Paco came back, and he said, ‘She did it easy,’ ” Breen said. “I’m happy all the connections and everything were in alignment, and she ran great. Paco said he didn’t whip her, and I don’t know what else to say. She went eight and four, she did it the right way, and we’re happy to be here.”
Stonetastic shot out to the lead quickly, passing favored Miss Behavior and Southern Honey in the first furlong after that pair looked to vie for the early lead. Miss Behavior kept her place just off the back hip of Stonetastic, but when the leaders rounded into the stretch, Stonetastic showed a lot of late energy and pulled away by growing margins. She paid $13.00, $5.90 and $4.40 in the win, and is 3-1-2 from seven career starts.
Miss Behavior finished second, returning $3.70 and $2.60, and Southern Honey paid $5.10 to show.
The win ends what has been a long week for Breen, whose father died the previous Saturday.
“This is a week since my father passed away, and he’s here with me,” he said. “It means a lot. It’s been a tough couple of weeks.”