Palace Malice wins Met Mile
NEW YORK (AP) Palace Malice, last year's Belmont Stakes winner, won the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap on Saturday at Belmont Park.
The $1.5 million Belmont Stakes topped the richest day in New York racing.
Total purses for the 13-race card were $8 million, including four stakes worth at least $1 million.
Palace Malice, a 4-year-old trained by Todd Pletcher, drove through an opening on the rail to beat a determined Goldencents, last year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner, by a length.
John Velazquez was aboard as Palace Malice continued his emergence as a leader in the older horse division.
''It's pretty extraordinary to have a horse win the Belmont and come back a year later to win the Met Mile,'' Pletcher said.
Palace Malice is 4 for 4 on the season and the latest victory was his sternest test so far. The race, the premier event on the undercard, attracted a deep and talented field of 12.
Palace Malice paid $4.70 to win. The time was 1:33.56.
The $1 million Ogden Phipps for fillies and mares drew only six runners yet it produced a thrilling finish as Close Hatches held off Princess of Sylmar by a head. It was the fifth win in the last six races for the 4-year-old trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Joel Rosario.
The lone loss in that span was a second-place finish to Beholder in the Breeders' Cup Distaff in November. Beholder ran fourth in the Phipps.
Close Hatches paid $7.80 to win. The time was 1:40.55 for 1 1/16 miles.
Real Solution beat Kaigun by 1 1/4 lengths in the $1 million Manhattan on the turf. The winner of last year's Arlington Million on a disqualification, Real Solution improved to 5 for 13. Javier Castellano rode for trainer Chad Brown as Real Solution paid $13 to win. The time was 1:59.27 for 1 1/4 miles.
Sweet Reason pulled a 9-1 upset in the $750,000 Acorn for 3-year-old fillies, beating Sweet Whiskey pay a half-length with Irad Ortiz Jr. riding for Leah Gyarmati.
She paid $20.80 to win. The time was 1:34.98 for a mile.
My Miss Sophia, the 4-5 favorite, finished seventh.
Coffee Clique edged Starthnaver by a nose in the $750,000 Just a Game Stakes for fillies and mares on the turf.
The 4-year-old is unbeaten in three races this year for trainer Brian Lynch. Javier Castellano guided her through the mile in 1:32.52.
Bayern rebounded from a ninth-place finish in the Preakness to romp by 7 1/2 lengths in the $500,000 Woody Stephens Stakes for 3-year-olds.
He obviously appreciated the reduction in distance from the 1 3/16 miles in the Preakness to seven furlongs for the Hall of Fame team of trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Gary Stevens. He paid $20.40 for his first stakes victory.
Bayern did finish first in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs, but was disqualified and placed second.
The time was a dazzling 1:20.75.
Top Fortitude was a distant second with Social Inclusion getting third to replicate his finish in the Preakness.
Norumbega got up in the final strides for a 10-1 upset in the $500,000 Brooklyn Invitational run at the same 1 1/2 mile distance as the Belmont. The gray 4-year-old trained by Shug McGaughey and ridden by Joel Rosario edged Micromanage by a neck for his fourth victory in 13 starts
Norumbega paid $22.40 for the upset score. The time was 2:27.13.
Undrafted, owned by NFL star Wes Welker, roared through the lane to take the $300,000 Jaipur Invitational for grass sprinters. Undrafted beat Marchman by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:07.24 for the team of jockey Velazquez and trainer Wesley Ward. He paid $11.80 to win, the fourth victory in 14 starts for the 4-year-old gelding.
Kid Cruz, once under consideration for the Belmont, found an easier and a shorter spot in the $150,000 Easy Goer Stakes for 3-year-olds. The colt trained by Linda Rice rallied from last for his fourth win in seven starts. He paid $8.90 to win with Ortiz aboard. The time was 1:41.12 for 1 1/16 miles.