ELMONT, N.Y., June 8 (UPI) -- Palace Malice took the lead at the top of the stretch in Saturday's Belmont Stakes and held off a tiring field to post a decisive win.
While the Todd Pletcher trainee took the third jewel of racing's Triple Crown, Preakness winner Oxbow finished second and Kentucky Derby winner Orb came from far back to get home third.
Palace Malice finished 12th in the Derby and Pletcher took off his blinkers for the Belmont -- a move jockey Mike Smith said made all the difference.
"It was the blinkers," Smith said as he jogged Palace Malice back to the Belmont Park winner's circle. "He was just enjoying the trip, sucking all the air in ... . The whole key was getting him into that rhythm he was in."
Smith kept his mount close to the front all the way down the backstretch, tracking the early leaders and just behind Oxbow. Oxbow, under Gary Stevens, got the lead as the field hit the Belmont Park stretch but couldn't maintain it, yielding to the eventual winner.
Smith, 47, said as he went by to the lead, Stevens, 50, yelled to him, "You go on with it, big guy. You're moving better than me."
Palace Malice, a son of Curlin, finished the 1 1/2 miles on a fast track in 2:30.70. He labored down the stretch, running the last quarter mile in a glacial 27 3/5 seconds. But none of his pursuers could do any better in the longest race any of them is likely ever to run.
Palace Malice was bred in Kentucky by Will Farish and is owned by the Dogwood Stable partnership operation.