Saturday's $600K Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga has attracted a quality field for the 141st running of the event. Shadwell Stable's MALATHAAT, the most accomplished of the fillies, drew morning-line favoritism in her quest to redeem her previous defeat to MARACUJA in the Coaching Club American Oaks.
Let's have a look at the field plus a few win candidates:
Race 10: The $600K Alabama Stakes (G1) — 1 1/4 miles, Dirt, Three-year-old Fillies.
Post Time 3:13 PM PT.
CRAZY BEAUTIFUL: 6-1
WILL'S SECRET: 15-1
PLAYED HARD: 15-1
ARMY WIFE: 6-1
Note that these fillies aren't all the same ones MALATHAAT had her way with in the past. They are improved.
MARACUJA has evolved her ability and is the obvious example. So has CRAZY BEAUTIFUL, who has strung together two consecutive graded stakes wins. CLAIRIERE, despite losing twice to MALATHAAT, still produced decent figures and could easily be sitting on a big effort. Needless to say, this assignment won't be easy for our Kentucky Oaks heroine.
MALATHAAT breaks from the sixth slot for trainer Todd Pletcher and is our even-money favorite.
The last time we saw MALATHAAT was in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), where she was an overwhelming $0.30-to-win favorite to score her sixth straight victory, but could not deliver. She found herself in an all-out duel with longshot MARACUJA, nip and tuck through the stretch, until she was tagged in the final jumps.
In MALATHAAT's defense, she might've been out of her element. She was making her first start in almost three-months. On top of that, the rail draw didn't seem to play into her normal running style, especially with such a small field to compete against. She found herself on the lead when, by comparison, her best races have come from off the pace, with a target to run at. In this spot, perhaps she can relax, take back, and let the race come to her. John Velazquez is back for the task.
Beach Haven Thoroughbreds LLC Medallion's MARACUJA will try to put up a second victory over the above favorite. The Rob Atras trainee won the Coaching Club American Oaks off the same layoff as MALATHAAT, yet still converted for the victory. MARACUJA was 14-1 that day, and is now pegged 7-2 on the morning line. The daughter of HONOR CODE has proven much more effective when takes a closer tracking trip as opposed to being too far out of it and left with too much to do. Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. is back onboard.
ARMY WIFE for trainer Michael Maker breaks from the seven hole and is an interesting competitor. She's 6-1 on the morning-line and will be piloted by jockey Tyler Gaffalione. Maker and Gaffalione are winning at a solid 31% together over the past two months. ARMY WIFE has put together two impressive graded stakes victories and her figures have only steadily gone upward. But she will be making her first start at the Grade 1 level, while overcoming a 50-day layoff. Still, she warrants a good look. She's a big striding filly by DECLARATION OF WAR out of TREAD by ARCH. On paper, her pedigree indicates she should welcome the classic 10F distance better than her rivals.
CLAIRIERE for trainer Steve Asmussen is winless since February, but still pegged a solid 6-1 odds against this deep field. Why? Well, despite her consecutive losses, her figures continue to improve and she always shows up to compete. She exits a third-place effort against MARACUJA and MALATHAAT, though she was not embarrassed that day. She's a Curlin-filly who should continue to improve with age. Whatsmore, she's got Eclipse jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. back on the saddle.
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