Saratoga Race Course is called the Graveyard of Champions because so many talented horses, including Secretariat and Man o' War, have lost there.
On Saturday, the upstate New York track claimed another well-known victim: Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice, who is ranked No. 1 on the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Top Thoroughbred Poll.
Favored in the Grade I Whitney Handicap, Palace Malice failed to win for the first time this year. Struggling in the stretch, the 4-year-old colt came in sixth, ending a four-race win streak.
“We got the trip we were hoping for,” said Palace Malice's trainer, Todd Pletcher. “It wasn't his day.”
While Palace Malice floundered, front-running Moreno captured the $1.5-million Whitney by 1¼ lengths. He covered 1? miles in 1:48.05.
Itsmyluckyday finished second, three lengths in front of Will Take Charge, who was last year's champion 3-year-old male. Prayer for Relief was fourth in the field of nine runners.
Prior to the Whitney Handicap, Dogwood Stable President Cot Campbell said he wanted Palace Malice to be in the third or fourth position heading into the first turn, and the colt ended up in third without any traffic problems.
Ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, Palace Malice appeared to be ready to make a strong move from the outside in the far turn. But he never really got into gear, and then he ran out of gas in the stretch.
“I don't know what went wrong,” Velazquez said. “He didn't run at all. He was in perfect position. On the backstretch, he was looking around. I was hoping by the half-mile he'd move on, but he never showed any interest. He went through the whole race not paying any attention. He trained great; he warmed up great. He just didn't run today.”
The Whitney was Palace Malice's first race since he captured the grade I Metropolitan Handicap by a length at Belmont Park on June 7.
Palace Malice has won seven times in his 17-race career and has earned more than $2.6 million. Last year, he finished first in the grade I Belmont Stakes.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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