Malathaat Rolls To Victory in ‘Win and You’re In’ Spinster

Malathaat lived up to her favoritism Sunday at Keeneland in winning the $600,000 Juddmonte Spinster (G1) for fillies and mares.

Grabbing the lead for John Velazquez entering the stretch, the 4-year-old Curlin filly pulled away to score by 5 ¼ lengths while covering 1 1/8 miles 1:51.05 on a fast track. She returned $2.88.

Army Wife rallied from last to take second, and Played Hard, who led early, checked in third. Reigning champion older dirt female Letruska finished fifth while bidding for a repeat win in the race.

The Spinster is a ‘Win and You’re In’ qualifier for the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), and Malathaat earned an automatic, fees-paid berth for the Nov. 5 race at Keeneland. She was third in last year’s edition of the race at Del Mar.

Played Hard, Letruska, and Princess of Cairo engaged in a three-way sprint to the first turn with Malathaat saving ground along the inside. On the backstretch, Letruska took control after a half-mile in :47.90 and six furlongs in 1:12.25 as Velazquez moved Malathaat off the rail to the outside for clear running. On the far turn, Malathaat quickly ranged up alongside Letruska and put her away and then shook off a minor bid from Army Wife and continued on to triumph.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Malathaat is a perfect 3-for-3 at Keeneland, winning the Central Bank Ashland (G1) in 2021 and opening her 2022 campaign with a victory in the Baird Doubledogdare (G3). Her overall record stands at 9-3-1 rom 13 starts and $2,750,825 in earnings.

Owned by Shadwell Stable, Malathaat was bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings. Her dam is the A.P. Indy mare Dreaming of Julia.

QUOTES

Todd Pletcher (winning trainer of Malathaat): “It’s great when you have one in their third year of training and you get to know them pretty well and kind of know what they like. You could tell that this year she’s a bigger, stronger version of last year’s self and needed a little more training. That’s why last year we opted to go from the Alabama (G1) to the Breeders’ Cup. But (this year) we thought with an older, more mature filly that’s carrying more condition, that a prep race in between was more appropriate.”

On realizing the pace didn’t develop as expected: “I was concerned there wasn’t going to be a whole lot of pace. My biggest concern was that Letruska might get loose on the lead, and when she wasn’t, there was at least some entertainment there. I thought that helped, and it looked like (jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) was always very comfortable.”

On having the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland: “She seems to love the track here. She’s three for three here now, so that’s always encouraging, to know one handles the surface well.”

John Velazquez (winning jockey): “The first quarter of a mile I knew was slow. Then when the other horse (Letruska) got down inside, it was like, ‘OK, there’s at least going to be a little bit of pace,” and he (jockey Tyler Gaffalione) kind of held his position going into the backstretch. At the half-mile pole, I had to make my decision, whether to stay behind that horse or go around him and make sure I put a little bit of pressure by the three-eighths pole. I got there a little bit too soon. I was a little hesitant to get to the lead a little too soon. By the quarter pole, I saw Tyler was tapping on the horse (Letruska), and I thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to pass him and hopefully that discourages him.’ Then (Malathaat) kept running today. Normally when she gets to the lead she slows down, and she did, but at the same time she was running a little bit. Right at the wire, she (moved sideways) and she almost left me at the wire. But she was much the best today. Thanks to (trainer) Todd (Pletcher) and the whole team for a great job.”

Luis Saez (rider of runner-up Army Wife): “She had a pretty good break. That was the spot we were looking for. She made a pretty nice move at the half mile. We thought we were going to be right there with the winner, but she kept going. Malathaat is a big, good filly.”

Joel Rosario (rider of third-place finisher Played Hard): “She broke really well on top. It was a good trip. I was going down the backside and I just stayed where I was because those two horses came and challenged me. She kept fighting, though, and I thought it was a good race for her.”

Tyler Gaffalione (rider of fourth-place finisher Letruska): “She missed the break and it took her out of her game.”

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