Palace Malice, 6th in Whitney, likely still headed to Woodward
Though still mystified following Palace Malice's disappointing effort as the 3-5 favorite in Saturday's Grade I Whitney at Saratoga, trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday morning the Grade I Woodward on Aug. 30 would remain a target for the multiple Grade 1 winner.
Unbeaten in four starts this year, and a clear leader of the older horse division, the 4-year-old son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin finished sixth in a field of nine, beaten 10¾ lengths by Whitney winner Moreno.
"It is a head-scratcher," Pletcher said. "Everything we've seen so far indicates that he came out of it well. He cooled out sound, he scoped clean, he ate up last night, his temperature is normal and he's sound this morning. We'll pull some bloodwork on him later in the week and see if that reveals anything. If that doesn't, I don't know what to do other than regroup and start training again."
Three of Palace Malice's four races this year had come at one mile, and he also won the Grade II New Orleans Handicap at 11⁄8 miles on March 29. He loomed a threat rounding the far turn under jockey John Velazquez but never got into contention as front-running Moreno pulled clear of the field in the stretch.
"We thought we would come away in a stalking-type position and we got to that point," Pletcher said, "but at the same time, as I was watching the race unfold, I never felt like he was taking Johnny anywhere."
The Whitney marked the biggest margin of defeat for Palace Malice since he was 12th by 13½ lengths in the 2013 Kentucky Derby. He came back a month later to capture the Belmont Stakes.
"Sometimes they throw in a dud, and right now it looks like that's what he did," Pletcher said. "We'll have to continue to check him over and see, but right now we'll just try again."
■ Moreno's landmark victory in the Whitney was a long time in the making. It took the Eric Guillot-trained gelding 10 starts to break his maiden, which he did over a muddy track on June 8, 2013, at Belmont Park. He followed up the performance with a win in the Grade II Dwyer on July 6 at Belmont, but failed to find the winner's circle in eight starts thereafter.
However, Guillot was not surprised by the Saturday's win.
"We finally got the fractions we needed," Guillot said. "I don't think this was a new peak for him. He was already at his peak."
What's next for Moreno is undecided. Should Guillot elect to run him in the Woodward, Moreno might face reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan.
"I'm not scared of anyone," Guillot said.
Minor league baseball
Legends shut out Power; Schwindel homers
Matt Alvarez and Luis Rico teamed up for a four-hitter and Frank Schwindel hit a two-run homer in the Lexington Legends' 3-0 victory against the West Virginia Power on Sunday in Charleston. It was Schwindel's 17th home run of the year.
The Legends added a run in the fourth on a single by Dex Kjerstad and a double by Kenny Diekroeger.
Alvarez (5-5) allowed two hits and no runs in five innings to get the win. He struck out eight batters and walked two.
Rico allowed two hits over the last four innings and picked up his first save of the season.
■ Former Kentucky standout Austin Cousino was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI in short-season Class A Everett's 7-6 loss at Eugene. The three-hit game pushed Cousino's batting average up to .303. The Seattle Mariners prospect has five home runs, 19 stolen bases and 20 RBI in 45 games.
■ AJ Reed (UK) was 2-for-4 — his first multiple-hit game at Class A — with a double and a solo home run in Quad Cities' 9-5 loss at Kane County. Reed hit .306 at short-season Class A Tri-City before arriving at Quad Cities, where he's batting .222 with three home runs and six RBI in seven games.
■ Jerad Grundy (UK) pitched five innings and gave up one run on four hits to earn the win in short-season Class A Vermont's 6-2 defeat of Mahoning Valley. Grundy, an Oakland A's prospect, improved to 2-5 with a 4.74 ERA in 10 starts. Another former Wildcat, Max Kuhn, was 2-for-3 in the Lake Monsters' win.
■ Former UK pitcher Alex Meyer, the 32nd-best prospect in the minors according to Baseball America, gave up two runs and struck out eight in 52⁄3 innings in Triple-A Rochester's game at Louisville. Meyer, a key part of the Minnesota Twins' organization, is 6-4 with a 3.05 ERA. He has 128 strikeouts in 112 innings.
■ Chad Wright (Heath, UK) was 2-for-5 with an RBI single in Class A Advanced Lakeland's 7-4 win at home against Fort Myers. The Detroit Tigers prospect is batting .265 with three home runs and 31 RBI in 99 games.
■ Mike Fiers (Cumberlands) struck out seven and gave up one run in six innings, but didn't factor in the decision in Triple-A Nashville's 4-3 loss at New Orleans. The Milwaukee Brewers minor-leaguer is 8-5 with a 2.55 ERA in 17 starts.
Chaz Roe (Lafayette) gave up two runs in two innings and struck out four for New Orleans, which is affiliated with the Miami Marlins. Roe is 3-3 with a 3.51 ERA in 36 games.
■ Zach Osborne (PRP) was 3-for-5 with an RBI single in Class A Asheville's 8-3 win at Lakewood. Osborne is batting .275 with 18 RBI for the Colorado Rockies affiliate.
Davis twins headed to West Virginia
Twins Demitrious and Chris Davis, who left Pittsburgh and walked on at Kentucky last season, apparently have decided to go to West Virginia. Twitter accounts for the pair of former three-star prospects who sat out last season at UK, indicated they will be playing for the Mountaineers now. Their names have not appeared on the school's official roster yet.
UK officials confirmed earlier this summer that the Davises, listed as a running back and cornerback on the 2014 spring roster, had parted ways with Kentucky.
In April, Kentucky's Mark Stoops was asked about how the Davis twins had looked. "They're doing OK. They're doing OK," he said. "They'll have a hard time getting some playing time here right now. But they're doing OK."
■ Four-star quarterback Austin Kendall announced his commitment to Tennessee on Sunday afternoon, picking the Volunteers over SEC East rival Kentucky. Kendall — a top 10 QB in the class of 2016 — has visited Knoxville several times in the past few weeks. His recruitment came down to UK and Tennessee.
Indycar Dixon earns Ganassi's first win of season
Scott Dixon went from last in qualifying to capture his fifth win at Mid-Ohio in the last eight years, coasting in on low fuel to end Target Chip Ganassi Racing's victory drought in 2014.
The 34-year-old New Zealand driver, who started last Sunday in the 22-car field, also won on the twisty road course between Cleveland and Columbus in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Dixon took advantage of a gaffe by Josef Newgarden and his pit crew to pull away. Newgarden, who finished 12th, drove over a hose and his crew stumbled filling the car with fuel and changing tires.
The last word
Scott County boys' basketball coach Billy Hicks responded to a tweet last week by former Kentucky player Jon Hood that accused the Cardinals of recruiting players to the school. Hicks told the Georgetown News-Graphic:
"I don't know Jon Hood and he doesn't know me. ... He doesn't know what he's talking about. ... I never recruited a kid in my life. Kids have come to me. That's the kind of program we have here. Kids want to be a part of it. I won't apologize for that."