Palace Malice cruised to the lead turning for home and beat both the Preakness winner Oxbow and the Derby winner Orb to capture the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday.
Oxbow finished second, three and a quarter lengths back, and Orb was third. Palace Malice, who completed the mile and a half distance in 2 minutes 30.70 seconds on a track that was upgraded to fast, paid $29.60 on a $2 bet to win.
“The whole time he was just enjoying the trip,” the Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith told NBC. “He was full of run turning for home.”
There was no chance of a Triple Crown; the last to accomplish the feat was Affirmed in 1978. However, there were plenty of story lines, including the trainer Todd Pletcher having five horses in the race, including Palace Malice.
But Smith made sure he and his horse were among them. Smith and Palace Malice finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby, then rested up for the Belmont.
“I was moving better than him at the three-eighths pole and like a big brother talking to a little brother he said, ‘You go on with it,’” Smith, 47, said of his fellow Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, 50, who was aboard Oxbow.
The victory was Smith’s second in the Belmont; he guided Drosselmeyer across the finish line first in 2010.
8:02 P.M. Attendance Drops
The official attendance was 47,562. Last year’s attendance was 85,811, the sixth largest in history and the largest on a non-Triple Crown day. Although last year the figures received a boost because it was not known until Friday afternoon that I’ll Have Another would not be attempting a Triple Crown bid.
7:58 P.M. Order of Finish
1. Palace Malice
6. Unlimited Budget
9. Golden Soul
10. Will Take Charge
11. Giant Finish
12. Midnight Taboo
13. Freedom Child
14. Frac Daddy
6:43 P.M. And They’re Off!
They break from the gate. A tight pack heading into the first turn. Frac Daddy setting the pace, which is swift. Oxbow goes to the lead. Palace Malice in third. Orb about 12 lengths off lead in back. Orb is making his move. Revolutionary in third. Palace Malice takes the lead in the stretch and wins!
6:41 P.M. Horses Approaching the Gate
The crowd let out a big roar as the horses made their way to the starting gate. The horses appear very relaxed as they begin to load.
6:34 P.M. Fight!
As the horses cruised past the clubhouse, the apron swelled with fans and a fight broke out on the rail. With everyone flooding the track area, it’s pretty obvious this is a nice-size crowd during a non-Triple Crown year. The starting gate is being put in place.
6:32 P.M. Almost Race Time
“New York, New York” is blasting through the expansive Belmont grounds after the call to the post. The horses have entered the racetrack.
6:24 P.M. Napravnik Relishing the Moment
Rosie Napravnik is set to become the first female jockey to ride in all three Triple Crown races in the same year. Adding intrigue, she will be aboard the filly Unlimited Budget. I spoke with her this week via phone; she was still riding at Churchill Downs.
“I have a lot of confidence in her, the way that she feels,” Napravnik said of Unlimited Budget, who is vying to become the first filly to win the Belmont since Rags to Riches in 2007. “I’ve been hearing that she’s training well. My husband said that she looked very impressive.” Her husband, Joe Sharp, is an assistant trainer for Mike Maker.
Napravnik has won on the filly before, at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. “I think she’s even moved forward a lot since I’ve ridden her,” she said. “I think she has a great shot.”
As for her success on the Triple Crown trail, she said: “Being able to get to this level is really what my goals and dreams are about. I’m just grateful to be having these opportunities and just trying to win one of these big races.”
6:19 P.M. 40th Anniversary of Secretariat’s Belmont Victory
In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown sweep, a blue-and-white striped pole was placed inside the main track to mark 31 lengths, the margin of his victory in the Belmont, from the finish line.
Using Equibase’s official measurement of one length (8 feet 2 inches), the New York Racing Association erected the marker 253 feet 2 inches from the finish line. The pole shows that Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes by more than three-quarters of a sixteenth of a mile.
The track announcer Tom Durkin developed the idea for the monument.
6:17 P.M. Horses in the Paddock
The Belmont horses are in the paddock being saddled, and a sizable crowd has swarmed the area. The sun is out.
6:05 P.M. Orb vs. Oxbow Starts Early
Point of Entry, owned by Phipps Stable, the owners of Orb, continued his dominance on the turf, winning the Woodford Reserve Manhattan by a head over Optimizer, who shares a trainer with Oxbow, D. Wayne Lukas.
5:54 P.M. Grand Old Racetrack Comes to Grand Central
On Friday, New York City commuters and tourists were given a chance to experience Belmont Park at Grand Central Terminal.
From 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., the east side of Vanderbilt Hall was transformed into a mini version of historic Belmont Park, with four interactive event zones.
Fans had the opportunity to win Belmont Stakes items and to be entered to win one of four prize packages, including Belmont Stakes day hospitality.
5:47 P.M. A Beautiful Day for Racing
Welcome to our coverage of the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes from Belmont Park, where the Kentucky Derby winner Orb and the Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow will be facing off, along with a talented field of 12 others. There is no chance of a Triple Crown; the last to accomplish the feat was Affirmed in 1978. However, there are plenty of story lines, including Rosie Napravnik riding the filly Unlimited Budget.
We hope to have insight and observations from others in the racing community, and invite readers to join the conversation in the comments area below. Feel free to pass along your picks as well.
It is hard to tell that Belmont Park was hammered with rain late Thursday and throughout Friday. The track is fast, and the backyard area is filled with spectators taking in a concert, eating festival food, drinking craft beer in a new outdoor bar and watching the horses being saddled. It is 76 degrees and mostly cloudy. But, most important, it is dry.