According to previous public reports or announcements, the New Orleans Handicap (GII) on March 29th was the plan all along for Palace Malice. There had been public statements from his connections as early as November that he was pointing toward that race. I hadn’t heard about anything else, though, so I wasn’t expecting to see him until the end of March despite him having been regularly on the work tab at Palm Meadows through the whole winter.
However, Cot Campbell announced today that he’s pointing Palace Malice toward the Gulfstream Park Handicap (GII) on March 1st, as a race before the New Orleans Handicap.
Palace Malice has only run at Gulfstream once, in an AOC in January of last year. It was the third race of his career, at seven furlongs on a sloppy track. He finished second, beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Majestic Hussar. That’s really not a lot to go on in order to determine whether Palace Malice likes the track, since it was just one race when he was a less developed — and far greener — racehorse. The one thing that does bode well about the race being at Gulfstream is that he has been working at Palm Meadows (Gulfstream’s sister training facility) all winter.
The Gulfstream Park Handicap is a flat mile, which Palace Malice has never raced. His first three races (two seconds and a first) were sprints, the rest have all been longer than a mile. If anything, the distance may be a little shorter than he likes to do; it will be interesting to see who else runs in this race, in order to actually handicap his chances based on likely scenarios, assigned weights, and the preferred distances of the horses in the race.
No matter what, a mile at Gulfstream makes perfect sense as a starting point for Palace Malice’s four-year-old year. The distance won’t be grueling, even for a first race, and he won’t have to travel. It’s a logical move.
In short, barring any setbacks, it looks like the return of Palace Malice to the races is less than a month away! Until then, enjoy his win in the Jim Dandy last year, because every day is a good day to watch Palace Malice (the very favourite horse here at Blinkers Off!) run a big race.