Dogwood Stable president Cot Campbell not only believes that Palace Malice belongs in the Kentucky Derby but also believes the colt can win the nation’s most famous horse race. However, there’s a rub; he has not qualified.
Campbell is so confident in Palace Malice, a son of Curlin with a pedigree for distance, that he is taking the unusual step of bringing the stable’s star back with little time off, running Palace Malice in Saturday’s Bluegrass Stakes two weeks after the ill-fated Louisiana Derby.
“I usually get over (bad results) pretty quickly, but this one stuck with me,” Campbell said. “His effort in the Louisiana Derby was a non-race in that he was completely blocked for the last half-mile. He had no opportunity to lay it on the line, and he deserves this chance.”
Under the Derby’s qualifying system, the top 20 in points earn spots in the race. A first or second in the Bluegrass would secure Palace Malice a spot.
“In all my races, I have never seen something like what happened to Palace Malice in New Orleans,” Campbell said. “He was set to run (in the stretch) and got trapped behind two tiring horses. He moved out, but he got bumped back behind them. That’s hard to get over.”
“The more I watch the race and see how well Palace Malice was moving on the far turn without being asked, the more I’m convinced he would have won, possibly convincingly, had he been able to continue his run,” Steve Haskins wrote in the Bloodhorse.
Jockey Edgar Prado apologized after the race, but that did not change the result of Palace Malice’s seventh-place finish and no Derby points.
“He’s a great rider, but that race won’t be on his highlight reel,” Campbell said. “There’s no reason to be behind two (tiring) speed horses in the stretch.”
Palace Malice, who drew the fifth starting spot and is listed at 8-1 on the morning line, will be ridden Saturday by Garrett Gomez.