Palace Malice, the pace-setter at the Kentucky Derby, sprinted to a decisive win at the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes, dashing Orb's last Triple Crown chance for redemption.
Veteran jockey Mike Smith told NBC Sports that his long shot colt, who ran without blinkers, was "just enjoying the trip, sucking all the air in" on a fast track that had dried up after a day and night of pounding rain.
Orb, the Derby winner who entered the race the overwhelming favorite with 2-1 odds (despite his fourth-place flop at Pimlico), placed third; Oxbow, the Preakness champ placed second.
Out of the gate, Frac Daddy and Freedom Child set the pace on the mile-and-a-half course, but Oxbow managed to pull ahead by the half-mile mark. Orb, who left spectators jaw-dropped when he exploded to a victory at Churchill Downs, was able to pull ahead from the middle of the pack on the final furlong, but never managed to catch Oxbow and Palace Malice.
Palace Malice, owned by Cot Campbell's Dogwood Stable, won by 3 1/4 lengths in a slow 2:30.70. The colt finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby, skipped the Preakness, and entered the Belmont Stakes with 13-1 odds. His victory over 13 other horses gave Todd Pletcher his second Belmont win.
"We always felt like he had a big one in him," Pletcher told NBC Sports. "We were just waiting for it to finally develop."
The renowned trainer had a record five horses entered in the race. His other horses included Revolutionary, who landed in fifth; Overanalyze in seventh; Midnight Taboo second-to-last; and Unlimited Budget—the only filly in the field, paired with star jockey Rosie Napravnik—in sixth.
Though Unlimited Budget missed her chance to become just the fourth filly to win the Belmont Stakes, her jockey made history by becoming the first female to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown in the same year. She rode Mylute, who did not compete at Belmont, to fifth and third place finishes at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, respectively, making her the highest-placing female rider in the history of both races.
Fourteen horses were going for a chunk of the $1 million purse. It was the largest field for the race since 1996.
1. Palace Malice
6. Unlimited Budget
9. Golden Soul
10. Will Take Charge
12. Midnight Taboo
13. Freedom Child
14. Frac Daddy
Photo Credit: AP