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Alabama Preview: Malathaat, Maracuja Rematch At The Spa
Maracuja defeating Malathaat in the Alabama (Credit: NYRA / Chelsea Durand)

Alabama Preview: Malathaat, Maracuja Rematch At The Spa

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NYMalthaat and Maracuja‘s rematch takes center stage among the field of seven entered for this year’s $600,000 Alabama Stakes (G1), the marquee for the 3-year-old fillies at the Saratoga meet.

The 1 1/4-mile contest will go off as race 10 on the 11-race card this Saturday, with a local post time set for 6:13 PM Eastern. Sharing the card are the Smart N Fancy Stakes and the Lake Placid Stakes (G2).

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Even though she was defeated last time out, the race still seems to run through Malathaat, once again the morning line favorite. Undefeated prior to losing to Maracuja in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) last time out, she won the Kentucky Oaks (G1) with an impressive effort. We’ll see if she can get revenge when breaking from post 6 with John Velazquez back in the irons for trainer Todd Pletcher.

“I’m hoping that we get on the outside and stay clear,” said Rick Nichols, General Manager for Shadwell Stables who purchased Malathaat for $1.05 million as a yearling. “I think the additional distance will be a benefit to her as well. Her pedigree certainly points towards that direction.”

The Rob Atras-trained Maracuja will look to defeat Malathaat for the second time when breaking from post 4 with Ricardo Santana Jr. aboard. She’d been running decently against top quality competition before the CCA Oaks, but she clearly found another gear in her last start. Another win here could vault her to the top of the division.

“You always hope for the best, but our goal was always to target the Coaching Club and the Alabama, so it’s nice that things are coming together,” Atras said.

One “new shooter” to Saratoga who looks solid is Crazy Beautiful, who’s won 2 straight: the Summertime Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita Park and the Delaware Oaks (G3). Jose Ortiz will have the mount for Kenny McPeek when breaking from the rail.

“If she runs back to her last couple of races, I think she’s definitely in the picture,” McPeek said. “She’s a lovely filly to be around and we’re cautiously optimistic.”

The full field from the rail out: Crazy Beautiful, Will’s Secret, Clairiere, Maracuja, Played Hard, Malathaat, and Army Wife.

Top Choice

#6 Malathaat – To be honest, I came in this race wanting to pick against her, but she just looks a little too tough in this spot. Even though she lost last time out, the pace dynamics were not ideal for her, and this race looks much different. Being drawn outside will help, plus her breeding is very much suited for the extra distance. I don’t believe she’s a single, but she’s more talented than the rest of these horses.

Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers

#7 Army Wife – This filly has impressively won 2 in a row and could continue to improve, which had me heavily considering playing her on top. In the end, I think Malathaat is a touch more talented than this one, who hasn’t run against top-notch competition just yet. Still, the Mike Maker trainee is an intriguing alternative to the favorite.

“She doesn’t need to take her racetrack with her, we’re just trying to pick the right spots with her and it’s worked out well. I hope we have a winning trip,” Maker said.

#1 Crazy Beautiful – She’s won 2 in a row impressively; however, we’ve seen her be no match for the top-tier fillies in previous starts. She seems to be improving, though, which gives her a shot. The distance also should be no issue for her, and getting Jose Ortiz aboard is a plus. She makes sense to use on multi-race tickets.

“I don’t think (the distance is) going to be a problem,” McPeek said. “Jose Ortiz rode her perfectly in his last ride on her in Florida. I think it’s just a matter of timing the race and hopefully she finishes up like she can.”

Exotic Plays

#3 Clairiere – At this point, we kind of know what she’s going to do. She hits the board in big races but hasn’t been able to win them lately. I do believe the extra distance will be to her liking, and the pace dynamics will be more up her alley, but she’s hard to pick until we see her win again.

Party Crashers

#4 Maracuja – It’s odd to put her in this spot as a “party crasher” considering she won CCA Oaks last time out. I question if she can repeat that sort of effort in this spot, where the field and pace dynamics are a bit more normal, but she still has to be considered a contender. However, the price is going to be much shorter, which makes her much less attractive.

Watch the latest episode of “Dr. Miranda Previews” for Dr. Miranda’s Best Bets in the Alabama!

Throw Outs

#2 Will’s Secret – Her last effort in the Indiana Oaks (G3) left a lot to be desired and has me a bit worried about her chances here. At one time, this horse showed she could compete with this caliber of competition, but right now, she might be a cut below.

#5 Played Hard – She’s won 2 straight races, including an allowance over this track last time out, but the waters get deeper in this spot. This will be her first try against stakes company, so she’s jumping into the deep end of the pool pretty quickly for trainer Phil Bauer.

“The sprint mentality has gone away from her,” Bauer said. “She’s always been a horse with natural speed, but her first two-turn effort at Churchill, she was a little keen down the backside when we tried to rate her. She’s come a long way as far as that; hopefully it’ll make her a better racehorse. She showed it in her race here and obviously she’s had everything her way, but I think good horses can create trips that look like they are given to them, but that’s not necessarily the case.”

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