Beach Haven Thoroughbreds LLC's MARACUJA, at odds of 15-1, stalked the pace under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. before moving three-wide move into the stretch and running down Kentucky Oaks heroine MALATHAAT in Saturday's $500K Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga Racecourse.
"The trip was perfect," winning jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. said, per HRN. "Rob liked the filly a lot and I was happy with her. There wasn't much pressure in this race. He told me, ‘Just do what you have to do' and we took the victory today."
Sent off at odds of 15-1, MARACUJA showed good early speed and raced in contention through the backside, permitting the top two favorites MALATHAAT and CLARIERE to engage each other for the lead. They ran opening quarters of 23.38 and 47.13.
"All week I heard about the Graveyard of Favorites and I tried not to pay any attention to it. I just wanted my filly to run her race and finish second or third and get a nice race into her," said winning trainer Rob Atras. This was his very first Grade 1 victory. "I was thrilled turning for home, when it looked like she might be second, but as the wire got closer she bore down and got up. It's really thrilling. It still hasn't set in that I won a Grade 1 stakes. To beat a filly as accomplished as Malathaat is special." (Bob Ehalt, AmericasBestRacing)
Turning for home, MARACUJA drew within half a length of the lead, and engaged the resilient MALATHAAT for battle, while CLARIERE had enough and checked out of it.
MALTHAAT tried to hang on, but MARACUJA had the momentum in her favor; she lengthened her stride and wore down her rival gamely to win by a head. MALATHAAT settled for second, CLARIERE was another five lengths back in third. The final time for the one mile and one-eighth on dirt was 1:49.29.
MARACUJA paid $31.40 to win and $6.00 to place. She is by HONOR CODE out of PATTI'S REGAL SONG by UNBRIDLED'S SONG. She improves her record to 2 wins, 2 seconds, and 1 third in 6 total tries. Her earnings now exceed $405,000 and she achieved a new top speed figure for the effort.
As for even-money favored MALATHAAT, she was brave in defeat, nearly coming back to win, but ultimately conceding to the better competitor of the afternoon.
"She fought," trainer Todd Pletcher said of MALATHAAT, per Bob Ehalt, AmericasBestRacing.
"She fought off everyone in the field and that's what we were concerned about when she drew the one hole. It was a race on paper that didn't have much speed and you have a target on your back so we elected to go ahead and put her in the race and they went a little quick. Just when I thought she would get a breather, Irad was on top of her and she had to keep fighting. I thought she put in a game effort and hadn't run in a while so hopefully this will move her forward."
Source: Equibase, Bob Ehalt, AmericasBestRacing, HorseRacingNation