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Malathaat Catches Pass the Champagne Late in Ashland
Malathaat (5) defeats Pass the Champagne (Credit: Keeneland Photo)

Malathaat Catches Pass the Champagne Late in Ashland

LEXINGTON, KY – Shadwell Stable’s Malathaat rallied hard in the stretch to catch Pass the Champagne in the late stages before winning Saturday’s $400,000 Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland.

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Malathaat broke from post 5 under Joel Rosario as the 3/2 co-favorite and settled off the pace heading into the clubhouse turn.

Simply Ravishing, the other top betting choice, set measured fractions of :24.26, :48.56, and 1:13.00 but wilted almost immediately after Pass the Champagne tipped out to challenge her in the far turn.

Pass the Champagne looked gone halfway home, but Malathaat’s long stride helped the Todd Pletcher trainee steadily gobble ground until she caught the leader in the shadow of the wire.

Malathaat crossed a head clear while stopping the clock at 1:42.94 for the fast 1 1/16-mile dirt route.

“She has a beautiful stride,” Rosario said. “This morning, talking with (Pletcher), he told me exactly how to ride her. It looked like (the leader) was getting away from me, but I knew my filly would be there for me.”

Malathaat (outside) edges Pass the Champagne in the Ashland (Credit: Keeneland Photo)

Pass the Champagne was 5 1/4 lengths clear of the late-running Will’s Secret in third, with the same gap back to Moon Swag in fourth.

“The race sort of had interesting tactics when you are dealing with a short stretch,” said Will’s Secret jockey Jon Court. “I probably had to move on her a little bit early to try and catch the top two. I think she’s going to love the longer stretch in the (Kentucky) Oaks (at Churchill Downs).”

Curlin’s Catch and Simply Ravishing completed the order of finish.

“She stopped in her last race and she stopped again (in this race),” Simply Ravishing’s trainer Kenny McPeek said. “We’re going to check her out.”

The Ashland is part of the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Malathaat earned 100 points for the win, with Pass the Champagne receiving 40 for second, Will’s Secret 20 for third, and Moon Swag 10 for fourth.

Malathaat’s win came in her first start since winning early December’s Demoiselle Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct. The Curlin filly – purchased for $1.05 million as a yearling – has now earned $412,150 through 4 career starts.

“I think (Malathaat) might be pretty special,” said Rick Nichols, Vice President and General Manager of Shadwell Stable, whose original owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum passed away recently. “I can’t put it into words. I am sure (Sheikh Hamdan) is up there with a big smile on his face looking down on us. We really needed this.”

Malathaat returned $5 to win, $3 to place, and $2.40 to show. Pass the Champagne brought back $4.40 to place and $3.40 to show. Will’s Secret paid $3.20 to show.

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