Palace Malice was able to relax behind the pace setters without the blinkers, take command midway through the final turn, and ultimately draw off to a 3¼ length victory in the the final race of the American Triple Crown for three-year-olds, the Belmont Stakes.
Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow, who finished second ahead of late closing Kentucky Derby winner Orb.
The Belmont victor had set the early pace in the Derby only to fade at Churchill Downs, but on a sunny day with the track rated fast despite Friday’s rains, Palace Malice maintained his powerful stride, this time racing without blinders.
“Blinkers off, he was just enjoying the trip, sucking all the air in.” jockey Mike Smith said.
Palace Malice skipped the Preakness, the middle race of the series, and seemed stronger down the stretch as he surged to the lead in the last 200m and pulled away from Oxbow.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, who had a record five runners in the 14-horse field, Palace Malice fulfilled some early high hopes for the colt, who won only one of his first seven races, with his lone victory a maiden race at Saratoga.
Orb, the 2-1 favorite who won the Kentucky Derby, settled too far back in the field before mounting a serious charge in the straight could only finished 3rd.
By Owens Wong