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Palace Pier Too Powerful in St James’s Palace
Palace Pier (gray) over Pinatubo (blue) and Wichita (purple) (Credit: Ascot Racecourse)

Palace Pier Too Powerful in St James’s Palace

ASCOT, BERKSHIRE, ENGLAND – Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum’s Palace Pier defeated his father’s favored Pinatubo with a too-powerful performance in Saturday’s St James’s Palace Stakes (G1) on Day 5 of the 2020 Royal Ascot Meet.

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Though he broke a step slowly at 4/1 stateside odds and was forced to run at the rear through the early going, Palace Pier settled comfortably into stride under Frankie Dettori next to the Godolphin homebred Pinatubo, the 4/5 favorite. Up front, Royal Dornoch took the initial lead but soon yielded it to Wichita, his fellow Coolmore-owned Aidan O’Brien stablemate.

Palace Pier was sent wide around the far turn and commenced a rally alongside Pinatubo, who had to bull his way between foes to get into a clear running position. The two chased after Wichita and Threat, prominently positioned in the stretch run for a moment before giving way nearing the 1-furlong marker.

What looked like a three-horse fight to the finish changed drastically in the final stages when Palace Pier surged late to find victory. The John Gosden trainee was 1 length clear of Pinatubo in a final time of 1:42.38 for the 8-furlong event over the good to soft going.

“What a day!” Dettori said after his third win on the day improved his total at Royal Ascot meets to 73, equaling the late Pat Eddery’s record. “We always thought a lot of Palace Pier, but he got a bit sleepy on us in the mornings and we were scratching our heads. John did a great job and he thought, ‘Let’s start him off in a handicap at Newcastle to see whether he would wake up,’ and he did. We threw him in at the deep end today, but in the back of our minds, we knew that there was a good horse in that big body, and we just were not sure how much of a good horse he was. Today was no fluke.”

Though his tank was empty, Pinatubo held second by a head over Wichita, while Positive nosed out Threat for fourth. Arizona and Royal Dornoch completed the order of finish.

Palace Pier’s win was his fourth from as many starts, having won his seasonal debut over the Newmarket all-weather surface on June 6 and bagging both appearances at Sandown last summer. He is a 3-year-old Kingman colt out of the Nayef mare Beach Frolic.

“The race panned out well,” Gosden said. “Frankie said he wanted to ride Palace Pier a little cold. He settled him off the pace. He knew there would be a searching pace and I think (jockey) Ryan Moore was happy with how the race turned out on Wichita. It got a little rough and Frankie avoided all of that. He swept round the outside and I think that he demonstrated superior stamina, which he also showed at Newcastle, when he was really strong in the last furlong.”

Palace Pier returned $10.40 to win and $3.60 to place, Pinatubo brought back $2.02 to place, and Wichita paid $3 to place. 

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