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Palace Malice, the 2013 Belmont champ, pulls off rare double with Met Mile win

Palace Malice with John Velazquez up walks back

Palace Malice with John Velazquez up walks back down the track to the winners circle after winning the 121st running of the Metropolitan horse race at Belmont Park, Saturday, June 7, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Kathy Willens

Conquistador Cielo won the Met Mile five days before crushing the 1982 Belmont Stakes by 14 lengths. Palace Malice had to wait a year to hit that rare double, and in reverse order.

The 4-year-old colt rallied for John Velazquez to beat front-running Goldencents by a length in the 121st running of the $1,250,000 Met, switched to yesterday's Belmont undercard from its traditional spot on Memorial Day.

Palace Malice paid $4.70 for his fourth consecutive win and made a strong case to unseat two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan as the country's leading horse.

The son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin is 7-for-16 for trainer Todd Pletcher and Dogwood Stable, and the $750,000 winner's share raised his bankroll above $2.71 million. The time was a snappy 1:33.50.

"It's pretty extraordinary for a horse to win the Belmont and come back a year later and win the Met Mile from the No. 1 post carrying 124 pounds and beating the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner in the process," Pletcher said. "It's an unbelievable accomplishment."

 

Close Hatches wins Phipps

Close Hatches ($7.80) won the three-way battle among America's top 4-year-old fillies in the Grade I, $1 million Ogden Phipps Handicap, holding off fast-closing Princess of Sylmar, the 9-5 second choice, by a head. Even-money Beholder, the 2013 3-year-old filly champion, was fourth.

Close Hatches, ridden by Joel Rosario, ran 1 1/16 miles in a swift 1:40.15. It was her fifth victory in her last six starts, with the loss a distant second to Beholder last fall in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita. She's 8-for-11 lifetime, and the $600,000 winner's share raised her earnings to $2,447,300.

"We've been pointing to this race since early spring," trainer Bill Mott said. "We were aware that Beholder and Princess of Sylmar were running. There has been a lot of anticipation."

 

Real Solution wins Manhattan

Real Solution hadn't finished first in his previous nine races dating to April 2012 in Rome, but he did beat everybody in the Grade I, $1 million Manhattan Stakes. (He was awarded the Arlington Million last year on a disqualification.) Real Solution ($13) beat 16-1 Kaigun by 11/4 lengths, running 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.27 on firm turf for his fifth victory in 13 starts, all on grass . . . Trainer Leah Gyarmati's Sweet Reason ($20.80) surged late for Irad Ortiz Jr. to upset the Grade I, mile Acorn for 3-year-old fillies, beating 32-1 Sweet Whiskey by a half-length. My Miss Sophia, the 4-5 favorite, faded to seventh. Sweet Reason hadn't run since finishing third by 7 3/4 lengths behind My Miss Sophia on April 5 in the Grade II Gazelle at Aqueduct.

Front-running Bayern ($20.40), trained by Bob Baffert, bounced back from a bad-trip ninth in the Preakness to dominate the Grade II, 7-furlong Woody Stephens Stakes by 7½ lengths under Gary Stevens. The time was a quick 1:20.75. Finishing third was even-money Social Inclusion, whom owner Ron Sanchez decided not to enter in the Belmont Stakes . . . Coffee Clique ($11.60) and Javier Castellano won a head bob from 17-1 Strathnaver in the Grade I, $750,000 Just a Game for fillies and mares at a mile on turf. Former Yankees centerfielder Bernie Williams presented the trophy.

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