MALATHAAT Wins the 147th Kentucky Oaks

Horse Racing Radar
Valerie Mellema
Valerie Mellema is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Friday, April 30, 2021

MALATHAAT came off the pace to win the 147th Kentucky Oaks in a duel down the stretch with SEARCH RESULTS. Bumped at the start, she ran four wide along the first turn and ran in a bit of traffic through the backstretch. As they came around the second turn, she was in the four path, making a bid three wide down the lane and then battled down the stretch against SEARCH RESULTS. 

TRAVEL COLUMN set the pace early off the rail and held her position, but just didn't have the drive to outrun MALATHAAT and SEARCH RESULTS. At the wire, MALATHAAT got ahead by a neck to secure the win. WILL'S SECRET finished third. 

"She didn't get away the best, but I got a spot with her. She was running well and when I turned for home I had a target (SEARCH RESULTS) to send her after. We got up next to her and my fill went by. Then she waited a bit; she does that. The other filly came back but I could tell I was still in control. I never thought I was going to anything but win," said jockey Johnny Velazquez in the press conference. 

As the fillies ran out, Irad Ortiz, Jr. on SEARCH RESULTS patted Johnny V on the back, congratulating him. It was a showing of amazing sportsmanship after a very well run race. 

"We had a perfect trip setting just to the outside of the pace, we just got beat today. She ran a really solid effort and fought hard down the stretch," said Ortiz.

MALATHAAT is trained by Todd Pletcher. She covered the 1 ? distance on a fast track in 1:48.99. This is the fourth Oaks victory for Pletcher and thes second for Johnny V. MALATHAAT is owned by Shadwell Stables. She is the daughter of CURLIN, out of DREAMING OF JULIA by A.P. INDY. She increased her earnings to $1,125,150 and remains unbeaten in five starts. She was sent off as the favorite in the field of 13. 

Shadwell Stables recently lost its owner at the end of March, prompting a ten day mourning period for the stables as well as its horses. Rick Nichols of Shadwell Stables stated in the press conference, "...oddly enough, if he hadn't had passed when he did, she would have come into this race a Grade II winner probably. But since he passed, I honored him by not running any of our horses for ten days during the period of mourning. Because when his older brother, Sheikh Matoum passed, he called and asked me to do the same thing. So I thought that was the thing I needed to do for him. 

Well, that kept her - I asked Todd not to enter into the Grade II. But luckily enough, the Ashland was on the morning after the tenth day."

The Gulfstream Park Oaks was the Grade II they had been targeting, but Pletcher didn't find that it had much of an impact on her conditioning.

"Well, I think she's such a good filly, it probably wouldn't have mattered. But I can say this, I've only trained for Shadwell a little over a year, but I have never been around an organization who admired and loved their boss as much as Shadwell. And so I was 100% supportive of Rick's decision to respect Sheikh Hamdan and his family for not running for ten days. It was a simple conversation. Rick said ten days, and that was end of story," said Pletcher. 

MALATHAAT's victory was the sixth fastest Kentucky Oaks in history. She was bred by Stonestreet Farms and was purchased by Shadwell Stables for just over $1 million at Keeneland. 

Rick Nichols believes that there should be a way for a filly to qualify for the Derby, if an owner wants to compete against the boys. Since the point system came back for qualifying colts, there hasn't been a filly in the Derby. "There needs to be a way to qualify one or two of the top fillies each year, if the owner would like to run against the colts. I think it's a very special thing when a filly runs and wins the Derby. I realize that you set up the Derby to find out who's the best colt for breeding purposes. It's an opportunity to prove a horse that can go on to stud. But at the same time, if you got a really nice filly, it's kind of nice to rub their faces in it, if you can."

MALATHAAT'S dam, DREAMING OF JULIA, was a Kentucky Oaks favorite herself in 2010, but was beaten by PRINCESS OF SYLMAR, finishing fourth. The mare was also trained by Pletcher and ridden by Johnny V. In the press conference, the question was asked if MALATHAAT redeemed her mother, Velazquez responded, "I was hoping somebody would ask that question. I'm having nightmares when that happens out of the gate today. I had the same thoughts of what happened in the Oaks with her mom. And I couldn't get the position that I wanted. And, obviously, the outcome was not the same. Today we got the position we wanted and she responded to things that we wanted to do. So I definitely think she definitely did, yes."

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