LEXINGTON, Ky. – Saturday’s $1,800,000 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) produced a hair-raising finish befitting a championship event, and Malathaat gallantly prevailed after a three-way battle, edging Blue Stripe and Clairiere on the wire.
Malathaat rallied down the outside to stick a nose in front of Blue Stripe, who was in turn a nose better than Clairiere to her inside.
Todd Pletcher conditions Malathaat for Shadwell Stable, and regular rider John Velazquez was up. Last year’s champion three-year-old filly is now poised to win an Eclipse Award for leading older dirt female.
It marked the 16th Breeders’ Cup win for Pletcher, the 19th for Velazquez.
“When we first watched the race, we thought we won but they kept showing the replay, it got closer each time,” Pletcher said. “She had a lot of momentum and was hoping she had enough time to get there. She got her head down at the right moment.”
Blue Stripe and Clairiere ran great in defeat.
“I wasn’t surprised (I won),” Velazquez said. “I thought I got the bob and then I wasn’t sure. When you got that much trust from a guy like Todd Pletcher and gives me the opportunity to ride these good horses, it makes it easy when you have to make adjustments during the race.”
Malathaat improved to 4-for-4 at Keeneland, and Pletcher and Velazquez have now teamed to win the Distaff twice.
Winner of the Spinster (G1) and Personal Ensign (G1) in her two previous outings, Malathaat notched her sixth Grade 1 triumph and ninth overall stakes win. She captured the Kentucky Oaks (G1), Alabama (G1), and Ashland (G1) last season, and the four-year-old daughter of Curlin opened 2022 with a victory in the Doubledogdare (G3).
She embarked on her current win streak following runner-up finishes in the Ogden Phipps (G1) and Shuvee (G2), adding blinkers following the latter, and Malathaat has now earned $3,790,825 from a 14-10-3-1 record.
“I think the blinkers made a difference today,” Pletcher noted. “It’s hard to make an equipment change on a horse that’s so successful, but we just felt like that’s the little edge she needed.”
Society sped to the front and showed the way on a clear lead through splits in :23.09 and :47.29. Secret Oath took over nearing the completion on the far turn, but the closers were rolling into the frame at that point.
Blue Stripe struck the front first in midstretch, and Clairiere was charging up the inside to challenge. Malathaat, who was still fifth an eighth of a mile from the finish, flew home on the far outside to get the money in a three-horse photo, completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.07.
Malathaat left the starting gate as the 2.88-1 second choice.
Clairiere wound up more than three lengths clear of 7-5 favorite Nest in fourth. Secret Oath, Search Results, Society, and Awake At Midnyte rounded out the order.
Bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Stables, Malathaat was purchased for $1,050,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September yearling sale.