Palace Malice to face three in Westchester Handicap

 

The Sports Network

Elmont, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Palace Malice, winner of last year's Belmont Stakes, will take on just three challengers in Sunday's $150,000 Westchester Handicap at Belmont Park.

Palace Malice, undefeated in two starts this year, regains the services of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez for the one-mile race and will start from post 3 in the four-horse field.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Palace Malice won the New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds in his most recent start on March 29 with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith riding. Smith rode the colt to victory last year in both the Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy.

"This horse holds a special place in my heart," said Smith. "I'm just so happy that I got to reunite with him and he didn't let us down. He might be better than he was last year."

The 4-year-old colt, owned by Dogwood Stable, began his 2014 campaign with a head victory in the Gulfstream Park Handicap with Velazquez in the saddle.

Palace Malice has banked $1,871,135 with five wins and four seconds in 14 starts.

Here is the field for the Westchester from the rail out: Declan's Warrior, Joe Bravo; I'm Steppin' It Up, Jose Caraballo; Palace Malice, John Velazquez and Red Rifle, Javier Castellano.

Post time for the Westchester will be approximately 2:22 p.m. ET.

Also on Sunday's card are the $250,000 Ruffian Stakes for fillies and mares and the $400,000 Man o' War Stakes on the turf.

Trainer Bob Baffert's Fiftyshadesofhay heads a six-horse field for the one- mile Ruffian. The 4-year-old filly will break from the far outside post with John Velazquez riding.

Owned by Mike Pegram, Fiftyshadesofhay has won four of 15 career starts for $796,547. Last year she won the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico and the Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows. This year in two starts at Santa Anita, the filly was fourth in the La Canada and sixth in the Santa Margarita.

Here is the Ruffian field in post position order: Six Queens, Luis Saez; My Wandy's Girl, Rajiv Maragh; Parc Monceau, Jose Ortiz; Toasting, Javier Castellano; Grace Hall, Joel Rosario and Fiftyshadesofhay, John Velazquez.

Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey will go for a third straight win in the Man o' War Stakes versus six rivals.

McGaughey won the 2012 renewal with Point of Entry and came back last year to win with Boisterous. Sunday he will send out Imagining in the 1 3/8-mile event. The chestnut horse will break from post 2 with Joel Rosario in the saddle.

Owned by Phipps Stable, Imagining has just one start this year coming into the Man o' War. The 6-year-old chestnut horse was second to Lochtel in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Feb. 9.

"We ran him one time in Florida and he ran a great race down there. We wanted to get him up here for the long races and get him started," McGaughey said.

In 2013, Imagining won the Idle Rich, Bowl Game and Red Smith Handicap. He has won seven of 15 lifetime starts for $573,114.

Here is the field for the Man o'War in post position order: Grandeur, Julien Leparoux; Imagining, Joel Rosario; Vertiformer, Joe Bravo; Frac Daddy, Alan Garcia; Amira's Prince, John Velazquez; Real Solution, Javier Castellano and Lucayan, Jose Lezcano.

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