Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks 2-5 Malathaat

‘Never be afraid of one horse’ goes the old adage, but they’re all running scared of Malathaat, who is the overwhelming favorite against just three rivals in Saturday’s Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga.

The $500,000, nine-furlong test for three-year-old fillies on the main track has been won by superstars in the past – including Ruffian, Davona Dale, and Monomoy Girl – and Malathaat is at present on course to join them, the daughter of Curlin unbeaten in five starts to date and a morning-line 2-5 to stretch her sequence to six.

She has been off the track since keeping on gamely in deep stretch to win the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at the end of April – Clairiere fourth and Maracuja seventh – with trainer Todd Pletcher attributing her layoff to Malathaat’s tardiness in regaining her racing weight after that Churchill Downs effort. Pletcher, who has won the CCA Oaks seven times but not since 2015, is evidently now happy with his starlet’s condition, and given racing luck she is impossible to oppose in this field.

The exacta horse is Clairiere (9-5), who was three lengths behind Malathaat when fourth in the Kentucky Oaks, keeping on late, and last time out filled third spot in the Grade 2 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont. She’s a good filly, make no mistake, but Malathaat looks something special.

HorseJockeyOdds courtesy of Jazzsports
MALATHAATJohn R. Velazquez-250
MARACUJARicardo Santana. Jr+600
CLAIRIEREIrad Ortiz. Jr+180

Grade 3 Caress Stakes 6-5 Robin Sparkles

There is sure to be a battle for the lead in the $200,000 Grade 3 Caress Stakes, for four-year-olds and up distaffers on turf, with the two market leaders, Caravel and Robin Sparkles primed for an early duel in the five-and-a-half-furlong contest.

Robin Sparkles (6-5) posted her highest Beyer figure (94) when slamming the opposition over six furlongs at Belmont last time out, with Jakarta (6-1) back in fourth, and already has a victory at the Spa on her resume. Caravel (7-5) likewise set a Beyer high (99) when blitzing the field at Monmouth Park last month, and arguably has the edge on pure speed, as well as the promise of further improvement with just six races under her belt. She can prevail over her tenacious rival.

HorseJockeyOdds courtesy of Jazzsports
CARAVELIrad Ortiz. Jr+140
TASSEric Cancel+3000
IN GOOD SPIRITSJohn R. Velazquez+800
FLOWER POINTJoel Rosario+800
JAKARTALuis Saez+600

Grade 3 Shuvee Stakes

Sunday’s card at the Spa on a weekend full of talented fillies and mares is all about the $250,000 Grade 3 Shuvee Stakes over nine furlongs on the main track, four-year-olds and up, and Chad Brown and Bill Mott are responsible for five of the seven runners.

Mott’s leading contender looks to be Antoinette, who took second place in the Grade 2 Fleur De Lis Stakes at Churchill Downs last month when reverting to dirt after five races on turf. That level of form looks good in this grade, but it doesn’t match up to the best shown by the Brown-trained Dunbar Road, who ran third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff behind Monomoy Girl.

The sticking point with Dunbar Road is her lifeless showing in the Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs on her seasonal reappearance back in April. However, Brown has been pleased with her recent workouts and, with a throat infection explaining her absence from the track since April, Dunbar Road (Irad Ortiz) may well bounce back in an admittedly deep field for a Grade 3 contest.

HorseJockeyOdds courtesy of Jazzsports
HOROLOGISTJunior Alvarado +800
GOLD SPIRITJavier Castellano +800
LIBERTY M DBrian Joseph Hernandez. Jr +3000
DUNBAR ROADIrad Ortiz. Jr +200
ANTOINETTEJhon R. Velazquez +400
ROYAL FLAGJoel Rosario +250

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