By Bill Finley
Malathaat (Curlin), the undefeated filly who is coming off a win in the GI Longines Kentucky Oaks, could go next in the June 5 GI Belmont S.
“It has crossed our minds,” Shadwell Farms Vice President and General Manager Rick Nichols said of the Belmont. “One issue would be whether or not we could get John Velazquez. If Medina Spirit (Protonico) wins the [GI] Preakness Stakes., obviously John will have to choose him for the Belmont. No one would blame him for choosing that horse.”
Nichols said a final decision will be made in “about a week.”
“We'll talk some more about it and talk with Sheikh Hamdan's family and get their input,” Nichols said
The filly's trainer, Todd Pletcher, is no stranger to the Kentucky Oaks-Belmont route. In 2007, Pletcher went in the Belmont with Rags to Riches (A.P. Indy) after winning the Oaks. She is the last filly to win the Belmont and was the first to do so since 1905. Three fillies have won the Belmont.
Nichols admitted that there are not a lot of options right now for Malathaat against fillies. She will pass the GII Black-Eyed Susan S. at Pimlico. The Belmont Stakes card includes the GI Acorn S. for 3-year-old fillies, but the race is at one-mile around one turn and is not a good fit for the filly. The next Grade I race around two turns for 3-year-old fillies is the July 24 GI Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga.
“The further they go the better,” Nichols said. “There are not a lot of good choices for her. We could go in the [GII] Mother Goose Stakes, but it's only a Grade II race.”
Nichols said Malathaat returned to the track Thursday morning and galloped for Pletcher.
“Told loves her. He absolutely loves her,” Nichols said. “She's such a sweet filly around the barn. She's got so much class and has everything you'd want in a top filly.”
Malathaat kicked off her 3-year-old campaign with a win in the GI Central Bank Ashland and followed that up with a hard fought win over Search Results (Flatter) in the Oaks. A $1,050,000 purchase at Keeneland September, Malathaat is five-for-five lifetime.