News and STORIES

Graveyard of Champions Ends Malathaat’s Undefeated Campaign

Author: Chris Adams
Published: Monday July 26, 2021

Saratoga is often called the “Graveyard of Champions” because so many great horses have been defeated over the track. On Saturday Malathaat became its latest victim.

Coaching Club American Oaks

Heading into the race the coverage was all over Malathaat who was undefeated, battle tested, and odds on. The field of only four runners broke from the gate well with #2 Maracuja breaking out for the lead. John Velazquez on the favorite used the horse’s early speed to maintain inside position and to work in front and inside of the #2. 

As the horses entered the back stretch the top 2 had separated from #3 Rockpaperscissors and the 2nd betting choice #4 Clairiere. Midway up the stretch Maracuja’s jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. kept his horse relaxed as Clairiere bolted up on her outside to challenge Malathaat for the lead. This move played perhaps the most significant role in the final outcome of the race.

After dueling with Maracuja through the first half of the race, Clairiere kept the pressure on the Kentucky Oaks champion all the way around the far turn and into the stretch. In the run around the far turn Santana reengaged Maracuja who had dropped to the back of the field.

As the horses turned for home the top 2 betting choices were battling just ahead of the #2 who was mounting a late re-rally. Malathaat as she has done so often, dug in after meeting Clairiere’s eye and fought to put her away. 

Meanwhile Santana wisely kept Maracuja outside of his competitors and looked to stay away from the favorite. John Velazquez saw the horse getting ahead and worked Malathaat out to engage the #2 hoping to win the race on heart. While the Shadwell filly gave it everything she had, the starch had been taken out of her and she was unable to fight back.

Maracuja gave trainer Rob Atras his first ever Grade 1 victory and did so at 14-1. Malathaat finished second and Clairiere finished in third.

Future Implications of the CCA Oaks

While the race was a huge upset, Malathaat lost nothing in defeat. She is a horse that has demonstrated great brilliance and heart, but her jockey said prior to the race that she is a horse that waits on competition. These types of horses have great heart to win close battles. However, this became her worst enemy.

With only four horses in the field, tactics became so important and Velazquez put Malathaat in front to avoid lone speed winning the race, which it often can on dirt. However, as Maracuja relaxed and caught a breather, Malathaat kept fighting a new challenger. Malathaat never got a chance to catch her breath and still fought on gamely for 2nd.

When she returns in a race with a more honest natural pace, she should be able to return to a more tactical trip where she can relax through the better part of the race and then start engaging in the far turn. This should give her a much better finishing kick and allow her a better chance to finish with a flourish as her fans have become accustomed to. 

Grade 3 Lake George Stakes

It was a familiar sight in the Grade 3 Lake George Stakes on turf last Friday. Technical Analysis got first jump on Jouster in the lane and never looked back. The winner featured some of the most recognizable turf connections in the country. Technical Analysis crossed the line with jockey Jose Ortiz adorned in the famed red and white silks of Klaravich Stables and under the care of trainer Chad Brown.

It was an especially good race for Brown who also took down the runner up purse as long shot Fluffy Socks got up for 2nd at 10-1. The Chad Brown exacta paid a very kind $85 for a $1 wager.

Grade 3 Caress Stakes

Another stakes race on the Saturday Saratoga race card was the Grade 3 Caress on turf. This event saw a much more predictable outcome. #1 Caravel was bet down to favoritism and delivered from off the pace at even money. In Good Spirits was able to get up for 2nd. Robin Sparkles set a quick pace over the turf and faded to round out the top 3.

One of horse racing’s many oddities was seen in this race as the #6 Jakarta was originally reported as a scratch. However, this information was incorrect and the horse was running in the race. The horse was taken off the scratch race, but in the interest of betting integrity, was running “for purse only”.

This means that the horse will run and can receive any prize, but is no factor in wagering. The move is done to protect players who may have placed wagers without the correct information early in the day. In the end it made no difference as the horse finished last. Despite not having an impact on the prize money the horse definitely played a role in the run of the race as he was the only thing standing between Robin Sparkles and a lone easy lead. 

Grade 3 Shuvee Stakes

The final graded stakes race of the weekend was the Grade 3 Shuvee on Sunday. The race was run on a drying track that started the day as sloppy, but had been upgraded to fast by the running of the race. The favorite Royal Flag was way back of the pacesetting Horologist in the early stages, but followed the run of Dunbar Road and swung out into the center of the track.

In the lane jockey Joel Rosario, one of the best finishers in the sport, asked the horse for more and the mare responded beautifully. In the lane she picked off opponents one by one until she got a neck in front of Horologist in the shadow of the wire. 

Top Speed Figures from the Weekend

  • Judge N Jury: 98 Beyer Speed Figure (7 furlongs on dirt at Saratoga)

  • Control: 83 Beyer Speed Figure (5 ½ furlongs on dirt at Ellis Park)

  • Bueno Bueno: 79 Beyer Speed Figure (5 ½ furlongs on dirt at Ellis Park)

  • Sonnyisnotsofun: 77 Beyer Speed Figure (5 furlongs on dirt at Ellis Park)

  • Juju’s Map: 76 Beyer Speed Figure (5 ½ furlongs on dirt at Ellis Park)