Female winners of the Belmont Stakes have been few and far between, but in 2021 it would seem that the Kentucky Oaks winner Malathaat is one filly who would have a real chance to beat the boys going a mile and a half.
Bred to run long, the daughter of the two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and the very talented mare Dreaming of Julia has the bloodlines for the Belmont. Her sire might have missed by a scant nose in the 2007 edition, but both her broodmare sire, A.P. Indy, and his sire, Seattle Slew proved best at the grueling test in the spring of their championship 3-year-old seasons.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Malathaat has the look of a special filly. Purchased for the princely sum of $1,050,000 by Shadwell Stable as a yearling, the grand-looking bay has been perfect in five lifetime starts, beginning with a debut victory in October at Belmont Park.
Since then she has powered her way past her competition in four straight stakes races. Last time out in the Kentucky Oaks, she became the clear leader of her division with a relentless rally that carried her by the stubborn and previously unbeaten Search Results.
The decision on whether Malathaat will become only the 24th filly in history to run in the Belmont Stakes is not an easy one, and it is still to be determined. But if she does, she would seem to have a lot going for her.
Already proven a winner against strong competition, the regally bred filly is from the same barn that produced the only modern filly to win the Belmont, Rags to Riches. Somewhat ironically, she was the horse who denied Malathaat’s sire Curlin from adding a Belmont Stakes win to his Preakness score.
The Pletcher-trained Rags to Riches, who was a half-sister to Belmont winner Jazil, is like Malathaat in many ways. She was a beautifully bred filly coming off an impressive Kentucky Oaks victory in her fifth career start. She also was finishing her races like she wanted more distance. The similarity between the two should give the Hall of Fame trainer all the more reason to want to run his current star against the boys.
Pletcher also trained Unlimited Budget, who was the most recent filly to run in the Belmont, finishing sixth of 14 in 2013. He won that edition with Palace Malice in a Belmont that featured no chance at the Triple Crown and a group of males with no clear standout.
Again this year, there will be no opportunity for a Triple Crown sweep, and no male has distinguished himself clearly above the rest. These are further reason that Malathaat's connections might take the shot on June 5.
Once commonplace to see fillies in the Belmont Stakes, it has become much more rare in modern racing. Here is the list of all the fillies who have attempted to beat the boys in the Belmont and where they finished:
2013 Unlimited Budget - 6th
2007 Rags to Riches - 1st
1999 Silverbulletday - 7th
1996 My Flag - 3rd
1988 Winning Colors - 6th
1980 Genuine Risk - 2nd
1954 Riverina - 7th
1932 Laughing Queen - 10th
1927 Flambino -3rd
1923 Miss Smith - 8th
1913 Flying Fairy - 3rd
1905 Tanya - 1st
1905 Flinders - 7th
1885 Miss Palmer - 6th
1871 Mary Clark - 6th
1871 Nellie Gray - 10th
1870 Midday - 3rd
1870 Stamps - 4th
1870 Nellie James - 7th
1869 Invercauld - 3rd
1869 Viola - 7th
1868 Fanny Ludlow - 3rd
1867 Ruthless - 1st
In 2007, Rags to Riches became only the third filly ever, joining Tanya and Ruthless, and the first in more than a century to win the Belmont Stakes.
Does Malathaat have the stuff to make history? All indicators point to her being that special filly who would have a big shot in the final leg of the Triple Crown.