Palace Malice to face 12 in Met Mile

 

The Sports Network

Elmont, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Approximately two hours before the running of the 146th Belmont Stakes on Saturday, last year's Belmont winner Palace Malice will take on 12 rivals in the $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap (Met Mile) at Belmont Park.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Palace Malice has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite for the "Win and You're In" stakes. The 4-year-old colt will break from the inside post with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez riding.

"It's concerning, especially when you consider we're also carrying the top weight," said Pletcher about Palace Malice getting the rail. "At the same time, it is what it is, and, hopefully, he is good enough, seasoned enough, professional enough, and handy enough to overcome a less-than-ideal draw."

Palace Malice, owned by Dogwood Stable, is undefeated in 2014 with three wins in as many starts. The colt began the year by winning the Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 8 followed by a solid victory at Fair Grounds in the New Orleans Handicap three weeks later. He then claimed the Westchester Handicap at a mile by almost 10 lengths at Belmont four weeks ago.

"You get everything (in the Met Mile)," said Pletcher. "You get the sprinters stretching out, the routers backing up, the true milers. It's what makes it interesting."

The colt has won six of 13 career starts for $1,961,135.

Winning the Met Mile reserves a place in this year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile won last year by Goldencents. The 4-year-old is 10-1 in the program for his debut start of the year. Trained by Doug O'Neill, Goldencents will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith from post 4.

"I believe he is good enough to compete with these guys, even though he has been away for quite a bit," said Leandro Mora, assistant to O'Neill, "He is a fast horse, but we figure he is not a sprinter. He is a miler, and that's what his distance is."

Goldencents, owned by W C Racing, followed his Dirt Mile win with a disappointing seventh as the 3-1 favorite in last November's Cigar Mile at Aqueduct. The colt has earned $1,994,000 with five wins and four seconds in 13 lifetime starts.

Here is the full field for the Met Mile in post position order: Palace Malice, John Velazquez, 8-5; Vyjack, Irad Ortiz Jr., 30-1; Scarly Charly, Manuel Franco, 50-1; Goldencents, Mike Smith, 10-1; Moreno, Joel Rosario, 10-1; Central Banker, Corey Nakatani, 8-1; Capo Bastone, Victor Espinoza, 30-1; Declan's Warrior, Joe Bravo, 30-1; Normandy Invasion, Javier Castellano, 5-1; Clearly Now, Jose Lezcano, 10-1; Broadway Empire, Scott Stevens, 20-1; Romansh, Jose Ortiz, 15-1 and Shakin It Up, Rosie Napravnik, 6-1.

The Met Mile will go off at approximately 4:48 p.m. ET.

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