Pletcher's Undefeated Malathaat Shines: Preview of Saturday's Coaching Club American Oaks (G2) @Saratoga

Todd Pletcher's filly Malathaat is back after with her undefeated record on the line! See what he chances are looking like in the Grade II Coaching Club American Oaks ...
Todd Pletcher's filly Malathaat is back after with her undefeated record on the line! See what he chances are looking like in the Grade II Coaching Club American Oaks ...

1 1/8th (Dirt) Coaching Club American Oaks (G2), Purse $500k, 3F

If there is a signature race for fillies early on in the Saratoga Meet, then it is this one—Coaching Club American Oaks. A Grade II event, it brings together 3-yr-olds who may have tried the Kentucky Trail, or are trying to make a mark as the second half of the season ramps up. In the past, some excellent runners have contested the 1 1/8th distance, and winners have included more recently names like Paris Lights, Guarana, Monomoy Girl, Abel Tasman, Songbird, and Curalina. Who will join this distinguished list this year? It is going to take a mix of speed and stamina to outlast them all.

Now, let’s find out about this field…


#1 Malathaat (Jky: J. Velazquez/Trn: T. Pletcher):

There are so few Thoroughbreds that can claim to be undefeated after 5 major races even as a 3-yr-old. In 3 of those 5 contests, this colt took on Graded comp with aplomb. Todd Pletcher has what may be one of his greatest charges, and as he sets his sights on the Hall of Fame, that is certainly saying something. Shadwell Stable’s daughter of Curlin has such a powerful late set of gears that she has the ability to sit well off-the-speed, and still make an impact late in a race. That is a hugely risky style on dirt for the obvious reasons—she needs some pace to run into. If she comes up against a runner who can modulate the numbers up front, she could be in trouble. Still, John Velazquez is such a seasoned jock, that he understands the perils of waiting too long. Against this short field, she should make short work of this lot. Who wouldn’t want to see this filly in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in Del Mar come November?

Grade: A+


#2 Maracuja (Jky: R. Santana/Trn: R. Atras):

Trainer Rob Atras does not send many into the “G Ranks,” but he is going to try once again with this daughter of Honor Code. She came into the Kentucky Oaks after taking the route through the tundra of Aqueduct. There were some flashes of brilliance in the MSW ranks, but she failed to seal the deal in the Gazelle (G3). With Kendrick Carmouche aboard through her last 3 races, including a 7th at Churchill in the Oaks, she has question marks. Now coming off a respite, she could be a player against Pletcher’s queen. Her running style is to track the pace, and make a run towards the end. If Ricardo Santana can aggressively work out a trip to keep up with Johnny V, then maybe the team will have a chance at the end. If not … minor placings are the best that can be expected.

Grade: B

#3 Rockpaperscissors (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: R. Brisset):

This filly out of Distorted Humor has little when it comes to the “upside” category. Sure, getting Luis Saez, an experienced and hot rider, to guide this young upstart is one of those ticks to the positive. However, there is not much else to look at here. Brisset is hoping for a miracle, or just some valuable experience that could be used down the road. Class is a funny thing, and just competing in a race like this one can have huge ramifications for the near future. Beyond that, this is a major ask for a filly who has only competed in MSW races, and most recently, an off-track ALLW Co. go at Indiana Grand. No offense to these connections, but hitting the board in a race with only 4 horses would be an accomplishment of epic proportions.

Grade: C


#4 Clairiere (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: S. Asmussen):

To my eye, the one runner who has a legitimate chance to match the power of Pletcher’s filly is this one from the barn of Steve Asmussen. The Stonestreet homebred gets America’s greatest jockey in Irad Ortiz, and he knows this 3-yr-old having ridden her last time in the Mother Goose (G2) at Belmont in late June. That 3rd place was a bit of a downer, but make no mistake, this filly is talented. Her run through the Louisiana Series (won-Rachel Alexandra (G2), 2nd-FG Oaks (G2), was brilliant, and she was one of my top picks to contend for the KYOaks at Churchill that Friday. Though she finished a disappointing 4th, that wasn’t terrible considering the finish. I like her as an antidote in here, and it will be interesting to see how Ortiz measures the run he will need to cross the wire first. It will not be easy, so maybe getting to the front is the key, in an effort to take on the roll of controlling speed? Hmm …

Grade: B+


Join us Saturday for all of our Saratoga selections! Should be a great set of races from The SPA!