Last year’s winner Bonny South bids to retain her crown in the G3 Baird Doubledogdare, the centerpiece of Friday’s card at Keeneland, but the main focus will instead be on the return of last year’s champion three-year-old filly Malathaat, winner of three G1s – including one over course and distance – during an outstanding season.
Grade 3, $300,000, 1m 1/2f, 4yo+ fillies/mares
A champion returns to action in the Doubledogdare at Keeneland on Friday, when Eclipse Award winner Malathaat begins her four-year-old campaign after carrying almost all before her during a stellar 2021.
The champion three-year-old filly barely put a foot wrong in a campaign conducted in G1 company throughout, winning three – the Ashland over this course and distance, the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs and the Alabama at Saratoga – and hitting the board in the other two, beaten a head in the Coaching Club American Oaks and a half-length in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff when third on her first start against older horses.
Malathaat is versatile as regards distance, having won a G1 at today’s mile-sixteenth as well as at ten furlongs, and her brilliance is beyond reproach, so as long as she’s set fair to produce her best off a layoff of five and a half months she’ll be very hard to beat, given that there should be a fair amount of pace for her to run at from her inside post.
Twelve months ago Bonny South won this race by a head on her first start of the year, but then went winless through five, largely because she couldn’t cope with champion older mare Letruska, who beat her in the G1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park, in the G1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga and the G1 Spinster here over a mile-eighth. She signed off for the year when runner-up in the G2 Falls City at Churchill Downs in November, three and a half lengths ahead of third-placed Audrey’s Time , and despite not having to take on Letruska again may be vulnerable to another top-notcher.
A quirk of the entry conditions means that Crazy Beautiful has to spot Malathaat 2lb, owing to her victory in a mile-sixteenth stakes on the synthetic surface at Turfway Park three weeks ago. It was a decent performance, but she was a long way behind Malathaat in the Kentucky Oaks and the Alabama and hasn’t yet demonstrated she has the class to contend with that filly.
The speed could come from Lady Mystify, winner of the G3 Remington Park Oaks in September, a career-best, but a bad last of seven in the G2 Azeri at Oaklawn Park last month, or from Super Quick, who makes her stakes debut in a tough spot, after finishing six and a half lengths behind Audrey’s Time when they ran third and fifth behind Clairiere in an allowance optional claimer at the Fair Grounds last month, although neither has shown the tools to get this sort of job done.
|Horse Racing Odds courtesy of JazzSports
|John R. Velazquez
|Corey J. Lanerie
|Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.
Our Baird Doubledogdare Betting Prediction
If last year’s champion MALATHAAT, down in class after three Grade 1 wins and an Eclipse Award, is ready to rumble on her first start of the year there is nothing here to stand in her way.
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