Malathaat wins the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.
In a race steeped in history, with names like Songbird, Shuvee, and Go for Wand on its list of winners, Malathaat sought to return to a familiar spot: the winner’s circle. In her last start, she had battled Maracuja down the stretch of the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks on July 21, Maracuja’s final kick putting the Kentucky Oaks winner in an unfamiliar position: second place by a head. Four weeks later, Malathaat found the familiar confines of winner’s circle once again, getting the better of six other 3-year-olds fillies in the 1 1/4-mile Grade 1 Alabama Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Malathaat broke from the sixth post, Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez taking up position behind the front four early in the Alabama. Longshot Played Hard, trying stakes company for the first time, held the lead for the first six furlongs, setting a slow pace with the first quarter-mile in :23.97 and the half-mile in :49.12. She maintained her half-length advantage through the final turn, with Army Wife and Malathaat moving on her outside. Army Wife was fastest into the stretch, grabbing a short lead but Velazquez had Malathaat on the move, taking advantage of the longer distance of the Alabama. She overtook Army Wife and pulled away in the last eighth of a mile to win by a length and a half. Clairiere, who was last early, came on to finish second with Army Wife holding on to third. Will’s Secret, Played Hard, Crazy Beautiful, and Maracuja rounded out the order of finish.
The final time for the mile and a quarter G1 Alabama was 2:02.59. Find this race’s chart here.
Owned by Shadwell Stables, Malathaat paid $3.10, $2.50, and $2.10. Clairiere paid $5.30 and $3.60. Army Wife paid $3.90.
“With the exception of the stumble at the start, I felt pretty good the whole way. She recovered and got into a good position. She was in the clear. The thing we wanted today was to allow her to run her race and get into that big stride she has and a comfortable rhythm and keep coming,” trainer Todd Pletcher said after the race. “She got back close enough [after the stumble], maybe it would have improved one position or so, but ultimately it was where we wanted her to be.”
“I was thinking that Irad’s horse [Ortiz, Jr., aboard No. 3 Clairiere] was coming from way back and I was expecting that. She was not close to the pace, so in the back of my head, I was thinking that’s a horse who can come back, so you have to watch out for it,” Velazquez told the NYRA Press Office after the Alabama. “Last time, there was no speed at all. So, we made a decision to go to the first turn and if she was on the lead, then she was on the lead. She was on the lead and everybody chased us. Today, it was easier. The speed showed up. I saved the ground in the first turn. I didn’t chase. I knew I was comfortable where I was and she did it for me.”
Bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, the 3-year-old Malathaat is by Curlin out of the A.P. Indy mare Dreaming of Julia. Consigned by Denali Stud, the filly was purchased by Shadwell at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $1,050,000 by Shadwell. With her win in the G1 Alabama, Malathaat has six wins in seven starts for career earnings of $1,555,150.
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