By Alan Carasso
A slight bobble at the break of Saturday's GI Alabama S. at Saratoga may have cost 'TDN Rising Star' Malathaat (Curlin) some early position and consigned her to a four- and five-wide trip. But the good ones rise to the occasion when the chips are down and the daughter of fellow 'Rising Star' Dreaming of Julia (A.P. Indy) called on her considerable class and edged clear late to lead home a 1-2 not only for her superstar sire, but also for breeder Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Farm. Clairiere closed strongly from the back of the field to outfinish Army Wife (Declaration of War) to complete the exacta.
Off to that stutter-step beginning from gate six in the field of seven, Malathaat was allowed to find her footing by John Velazquez and raced with only 'Rising Star' Crazy Beautiful (Liam's Map) behind her as the Alabama field raced under the line for the first time.
On the business end, longshot Played Hard (Into Mischief) cut out the early fractions in advance of Army Wife, as Velazquez settled the odds-on choice on the flank of her GI CCA Oaks conqueror Maracuja (Honor Code), having improved a spot turning down the backstretch.
Played Hard remained in control after six furlongs in 1:13.27, a demanding-enough split over a strip downgraded to good following mid-afternoon rains, and Malathaat was asked to take closer order around the turn. Forced to cover a stack of ground, the Shadwell colorbearer nevertheless loomed a threat outside of the rallying Army Wife in upper stretch, fought her way past that foe with an eighth of a mile to race and proved a shade too classy in the finish. Clairiere followed the eventual winner's move into the lane and attacked the line for second. Malathaat traveled 41 feet (about 4 1/4 lengths) farther than Clairiere and 20 feet more (just over two lengths) more than Army Wife.
Named a 'Rising Star' off a fast-finishing maiden win over seven furlongs at Belmont Oct. 9, Malathaat wired the field in the Nov. 6 Tempted S. by nearly eight lengths and employed off-pace tactics to take the GII Demoiselle S. by 3/4 of a length Dec. 5. A $1.05-million Keeneland September purchase by the late Sheikh Hamdan's operation, Malathaat was on a trajectory to make her seasonal return in the GII Gulfstream Park Oaks Mar. 27–a race won by Crazy Beautiful–but the passing of Sheikh Hamdan a few days prior led to a start in the GI Central Bank Ashland S. at Keeneland the following weekend instead. Overcoming a similarly wide passage to just best Pass the Champagne (Flatter), she battled for every yard to just hold off next-out GI Acorn S. winner Search Results (Flatter) in the GI Kentucky Oaks Apr. 30 and just failed to last in the CCA Oaks after being pestered on the front end for the entirety of that nine-furlong trip.
“It was key [having a target],” admitted trainer Todd Pletcher, winning the Alabama for the third time. “Last time, it was difficult to figure out the right tactics and we kind of got tag teamed, as you'd expect to be in a prohibitive-favorite situation. Today, we drew a better post and we were able to let her find her rhythm and she showed why she's the best 3-year-old filly in the country.”
Malathaat is the second foal from her dam, the 2012 GI Frizette S. winner who romped by 21 3/4 lengths in the Gulfstream Oaks, but could do no better than fourth to upset-minded stablemate Princess of Sylmar (Majestic Warrior) in the Kentucky Oaks.
Second dam Dream Rush won the GI Darley Test S. in 2007 and was subsequently sold to Halsey Minor for $3.3 million at that year's Fasig-Tipton November Sale. She remained in training into early 2009, but was retired and covered by A.P. Indy for her first cover. Dreaming of Julia was foaled Mar. 3, 2010, and Dream Rush would go on to produce SW 'TDN Rising Star' Atreides (Medaglia d'Oro) and MGSW 'Rising Star' Dream Pauline (Tapit), whose first produce is a Curlin colt foaled Feb. 4 of this year.
Malathaat is one of any number of top-class runners bred on the Curlin–A.P. Indy cross, which includes Grade I winners Stellar Wind, Global Campaign, Paris Lights and Idol. Additionally, Classic winner Exaggerator was bred from a mare by Seattle Slew's son Vindication, while Mother Goose S. heroine Off the Tracks is a maternal granddaughter of Slew's son Capote.
ALABAMA S.-GI, $600,000, Saratoga, 8-21, 3yo, f, 1 1/4m, 2:02.59, gd.
1–MALATHAAT, 121, f, 3, by Curlin
1st Dam: Dreaming of Julia (GISW, $874,500), by A.P. Indy
2nd Dam: Dream Rush, by Wild Rush
3rd Dam: Turbo Dream, by Unbridled
'TDN Rising Star' ($1,050,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP). O-Shadwell
Stable; B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC (KY); T-Todd
Pletcher; J-John R. Velazquez. $330,000. Lifetime Record:
7-6-1-0, $1,555,150. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Clairiere, 121, f, 3, by Curlin
1st Dam: Cavorting (MGISW, $2,063,000), by Bernardini
2nd Dam: Promenade Girl, by Carson City
3rd Dam: Promenade Colony, by Pleasant Colony
O-Stonestreet Stables LLC; B-Stonestreet Thoroughbred
Holdings LLC (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen. $120,000.
3–Army Wife, 121, f, 3, by Declaration of War
1st Dam: Tread, by Arch
2nd Dam: Scoot Yer Boots, by Seeking the Gold
3rd Dam: Whirl Series, by Roberto
($50,000 Ylg '19 FTKFEB; $190,000 2yo '20 OBSAPR). O-Three
Diamonds Farm; B-J D Stuart & AR Enterprises, Inc. (KY);
T-Michael J. Maker. $72,000.
Margins: 1HF, HF, 6 1/4. Odds: 0.55, 8.70, 8.50.
Also Ran: Will's Secret, Played Hard, Crazy Beautiful, Maracuja.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.