Without a Triple Crown storyline, race fans were salivating at the prospect of filly Malathaat jumping into the Belmont Stakes pool and tangling with the boys in the final jewel of the Triple Crown. But connections for the undefeated filly said Tuesday she will pass up the Belmont.
Instead, the Kentucky Oaks champion will train up to the July 24 Grade 1 American Oaks at Saratoga. That gives the Todd Pletcher charge 12 weeks between races and sets up the rest of her 2021 schedule.
“We will point her toward the CCA Oaks at Saratoga, which is 12 weeks from the Kentucky Oaks,” Shadwell Farm Vice President and General Manager Rick Nichols told Tamarkuz Media. “Then, we will aim for the (Grade 1) Alabama, which is the main target four weeks later. Then, we will be able to give her a nice 10-week breather and head toward the Breeders’ Cup.”
Which Breeders’ Cup race — either the more likely 1 1/8-mile Distaff or the 1 ¼-mile Classic — remains to be determined. All of the above are two-turn, Grade 1 races. The American Oaks is 1 1/8 miles, the same distance as the Kentucky Oaks. The Aug. 21 Alabama is 1 ¼ miles.
Malathaat needed a spring challenge
Nichols originally opened the Belmont Stakes door after Malathaat’s clutch Kentucky Oaks victory. Nichols said the idea came about because there weren’t a lot of two-turn, Grade 1 races for fillies in the spring and early summer. The daughter of 2007 Preakness winner and standout sire Curlin is a born router and distance eater.
She’s also a filly needing to eat more. Nichols cited Malathaat’s slight frame as the reason he and Pletcher opted out of the Belmont Stakes. Bovada put 8/1 odds on her. Bet365 had her at 6/1.
“Todd and I have talked and have elected to bypass the Belmont,” Nichols told Tamarkuz Media. “She is a little light right now because she is still growing into the frame that she has. We want to give her a nice break and hopefully put some weight on her.”
Malathaat running with house money
Right now, Malathaat’s weight comes from her hefty record. She cost her late owner, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, $1,050,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September Sale. She’s earned that back — and more — in five starts. In four stakes (three of those graded), Malathaat banked $1,125,150.
She also owns two Grade 1 wins with the Kentucky Oaks and the Ashland Oaks a month earlier at Keeneland.