Son of Palace Malice in the field for Saturday’s 147th Kentucky Derby

Entered in the 147th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday is a competitor that will bring back some good memories for local horse racing fans.

Like the King, a son of Palace Malice, is among the 20 3-year-old thoroughbreds scheduled to run in the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Palace Malice was the Aiken-trained Horse of the Year in 2013 and 2014 while being campaigned by Dogwood Stable.

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During the Triple Crown’s 2013 edition, Palace Malice finished a disappointing 12th in the Kentucky Derby, skipped the Preakness Stakes and then captured the Belmont Stakes by 3¼ lengths.

For Anne Campbell, whose late husband, Cot, was the founder and president of Dogwood, Palace Malice’s Kentucky Derby experience was one she would rather forget.

Instead of dropping back and racing in the middle of the pack early as expected, Campbell said, Palace Malice charged out of the starting gate and grabbed the lead.

With Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith aboard and wearing blinkers for the first time, Palace Malice completed a quarter mile in :22.57 and a half mile in :45.33.

In 1¼-mile race like the Kentucky Derby, such a fast pace was suicidal.

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“It was just a disaster from the beginning,” Campbell said. “I remember thinking within the first few seconds, ‘Lord, we’ve lost it already.’ He was flying along on the front, and we knew it was all over.

“I just think he probably got way from Mike a little bit more than what Mike realized was going to happen,” she continued. “Then he (Mike) just kind of let him (Palace Malice) go. He didn’t check him. He just let him roll, and that was the end of it.”

An exhausted Palace Malice faded quickly from contention in the stretch.

“All of our friends said, ‘Oh, it was so exciting (to see Palace Malice on lead),’ and it was, but it also was devastating,” Campbell said.

In the Belmont, Palace Malice didn’t wear blinkers, which are designed to keep horses from becoming distracted, and he turned in a much, much better performance.

Campbell plans to watch the Kentucky Derby on Saturday and said she would be “pulling for” Like the King.

The colt has won three of his six career starts and has earned $200,680.

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His efforts earned him a victory by a length in the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park in Kentucky on March 27 and a runner-up finish in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes on Feb. 26 at Turfway.

Like the King is a 50-1 longshot on the Kentucky Derby’s morning line.

He will break from the No. 2 post position and be ridden by Drayden Van Dyke.

M Racing Group LLC owns Like the King, who is trained by Wesley Ward.

In 2020, Structor, another son of Palace Malice, captured the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Presented by Coolmore America at Santa Anita Park in California.

This year is the 40th anniversary of Aiken-trained Pleasant Colony’s victory in the Kentucky Derby.

Pleasant Colony, who also won the Preakness, but lost the Belmont Stakes, is a member of the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame.

He was North America’s champion 3-year-old male thoroughbred in 1981.