Malathaat and John Velazquez winning the Doubledogdare Stakes
Making her first start since a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Shadwell Stable’s Malathaat, the 3-year-old filly champion of 2021, was victorious in Friday’s Grade 3 Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
Ridden by John Velazquez, the Curlin filly trained by Todd Pletcher covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.58, holding off another comebacker, Juddmonte’s Bonny South (winner of the 2021 Doubledogdare), by three-quarters of a length. Super Quick and Lady Mystify finished another length back in a dead-heat for third. They were followed by Audrey’s Time and Crazy Beautiful.
Winning for the seventh time in nine career starts, Malathaat paid $2.60 as the 1-5 favorite.
Bred in Kentucky By Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC and sold by consignor Denali Stud for $1,050,000 as a yearling, Malathaat was produced from the G1-winning A.P. Indy mare Dreaming of Julia. Malathaat won three G1 races – the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs and the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga – en route to her Eclipse Award last year. Her only defeats came when second, beaten a head by Maracuja in the G1 Coaching Club America Oaks, and when third, beaten a half-length by Marche Lorraine in the Distaff.
Pletcher said Malathaat had a good freshening at Shadwell Farm after the Breeders’ Cup and resumed training earlier this year at Palm Beach Downs in Florida. While he had the G1 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 6 as a backup plan for the filly’s return, Pletcher said he hoped to race Malthaat over the Keeneland surface, not only because of her win in the Ashland but because this year’s Breeders’ Cup will be conducted there.
In the Doubledogdare, Malathaat broke from the inside post position, but Velazquez allowed her to drift well off the rail and four wide into the first turn as Super Quick and Lady Mystify battled on the front end for the opening quarter mile in :23.74. Lady Mystify and Flavien Prat opened up a sizable lead down the backstretch, clicking off a half-mile fraction in :46.89 and six furlongs in 1:11.75.
Malthaat was in fourth position, about nine lengths behind the leader, midway down the backstretch until Velazquez asked her for some run. She gained on the leader around the far turn and was on even terms with Lady Mystify at the top of the stretch. Malathaat took the advantage while racing on her left lead, covering the mile in 1:37.83, then switched to her right lead and easily held sway over Bonny South. The latter was last early, swung widest into the stretch and finished well in her first start since a second-place finish in the G2 Fall City Stakes at Churchill Downs last Nov. 25.
After breaking from the rail, Malathaat (left) was widest of all into the first turn of the Doubledogdare
“We got to the backstretch and I kind of let her do her thing, getting her mind on her business,” Velazquez said of Malathaat, “but by the time we got to the three-eighths pole, I’m like, ‘Man, now I’m too soon.’ I got her out a little too quick. Down the lane I went to make her switch her lead and she got lost looking for the field. Then the other horse (Bonny South) got to her and she went on again, so it was very nice. We know when she gets to the lead she starts waiting, so it was a good comeback for her.”
“She was all class in the end,” said Pletcher.
Brad Cox, trainer of Bonny South, was not disappointed with the effort by the 5-year-old daughter of Munnings.
“That was a big effort; she ran well,” Cox said. “Very happy with her effort. This will set her up for, hopefully, a big year. And, hopefully, a Grade 1 because she has knocked on the door so many times that we feel like we have to win one. This was a good run off the (five-month) layoff and something we can build off of.”
Malathaat, a 4-year filly by Curlin, has now won seven of her nine lifetime starts