NEW YORK -- Undrafted, the aptly named horse owned by Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, made a late charge to win The Jaipur Invitational on the Belmont Stakes undercard Saturday.
Welker’s horse beat a nine-horse field to capture the Grade 3 stakes race, paying $11.60. Undrafted, under the command of John Velazquez, blistered through the six-furlong turf race in 1:07.24.
Welker, the former Dolphin, turned heads in Churchill Downs last month by handing out $100 bills to passers by after winning more than $50,000 on the Kentucky Derby.
The track later discovered it overpaid Welker by some $15,000 but allowed Welker to keep the full amount.
Welker was not at the Belmont on Saturday; the Broncos have their mandatory minicamp this week.
“Perfect trip,” Velazquez said of the run. “We broke in decent position; we wanted to be in the middle of the pack, somewhere where he was comfortable. I got him out at the quarter pole, and he came running well after.
“He did it real easy. Once he got in the clear in the stretch, he had a nice pick up. It was awesome.”
Palace Malice just plain loves Belmont Park.
A year after capturing the Belmont Stakes, he took home the day’s second-biggest purse.
The son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin squeezed between runner-up Goldencents and fading long-shot Broadway Empire and never looked back, taking the $1.25 million Metropolitan Mile by a length.
Palace Malice has now won all four of his races this year, proving to be a late bloomer after an uninspiring start to his career.
He went off as the 6-5 favorite despite drawing the rail position, and a clean start put him in prime position. He looked to be boxed in rounding the final turn, but found late daylight between Goldencents, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner, and Broadway Empire. Romansh finished third.
“He can do so many different things effectively,” Palace Malice trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I was very, very concerned when he drew the No. 1 post. That can be difficult to overcome.
“What can you say about the quality of a horse that’s able to do that one year after winning a mile-and-a-half Classic?”
THIS AND THAT
• Real Solution took home the hardware at the $1 million Knob Creek Manhattan, a Grade 1 race for 4-year-olds and up. His 1:59.27 mile and a quarter was 2 1/2 lengths better than second-place Kaigun.
• General a Rod, the lone Florida Derby participant in the Belmont Stakes, finished a disappointing seventh Saturday, 4 3/4 lengths off the lead pace.
• Frank Sinatra Jr. belted out his dad’s immortal tune, New York, New York, in the minutes leading up to the Belmont Stakes.
• Robert Evans, the owner of Belmont champion Tonalist, said afterward that he supports an elongated Triple Crown season. As it is, horses that compete in all three races do so in a grueling five-week span. Evans said the extra rest would benefit the horse.