Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has just one victory in the Kentucky Derby on his resume. That win came eight years ago when he rode 50-1 longshot Giacomo to win the 131st Run for the Roses.
For the 139th Kentucky Derby, Smith has secured himself a mount that will go off at much lesser odds than 50-1. The veteran jockey will be aboard Palace Malice, second in the recently run Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
"We've got a seasoned, big-money rider with Mike, and one with whom Dogwood has a fine history," said Dogwood Stable President Cot Campbell. "Palace Malice is not a complicated colt, but still we're pleased that Mike can work him in his final move on April 28 at Churchill Downs."
Palace Malice, trained by Todd Pletcher, will be one of four 3-year-olds in the Derby from his trainer's barn. He'll be joined by Wood Memorial winner Verrazano, Louisiana Derby champ Revolutionary and Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze.
In 2005, Smith guided Giaocmo from 18th in a 20-horse field to a half-length win over 71-1 longshot Closing Argument. That victory came one year after Smith and 5-1 second choice Lion Heart came up second to Smarty Jones after setting most of the pace in the 1 1/4-mile classic.
Smith takes over the riding assigment on Palace Malice after last week's disaster aboard War Academy in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. The 2-1 favorite was racing awkwardly on Oaklawn's dirt track and apparently took a couple bad steps up the backstretch.
Smith felt something that was just not right and decided to pull the horse up after four furlongs.
"He was just very uncertain over the surface and I tried to get him to settle," said Smith. "He was okay on the first turn, but then he took four or five really awkward steps. I didn't see anything major causing it, but I just felt really awkward on him and figured it was better safe than sorry, so I pulled him up. I didn't want to take any chances."
Palace Malice will be Dogwood Stable's eighth Derby starter with the stable's best finish coming in 1990 when Summer Squall finished second as the 2-1 second pick to Unbridled.
After finishing second in his debut effort last July at Belmont Park, Palace Malice broke his maiden at Saratoga the next month.
The colt began his 3-year-old season with a second in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in January and five weeks later got third, losing by a half- length, to Ive Struck a Nerve in the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.
The Louisiana Derby proved to be a disappointment when Palace Malice could do not better than seventh behind stablemate Revolutionary.
Palace Malice showed a lot more in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. He was never far off the lead under Garrett Gomez. He had the lead at the top of the stretch and fell just a neck short of victory.