Coaching Club American Oaks 2021: Odds, picks, preview

Coaching Club American Oaks 2021: Odds, picks, preview
Photo: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire

Only three rivals will attempt Saturday to keep Malathaat from maintaining her unbeaten record.

Malathaat is the 2-5 morning-line favorite for the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks. Post time for the 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-old fillies is 3:23 p.m. EDT, with FS2 showing that and all of Saturday’s Saratoga action.

A short field of four will contest the 105th edition of the CCA Oaks. Clairiere (9-5), Maracuja (6-1) and Rockpaperscissors (15-1) are the trio signed on to face Malathaat, who is 5-for-5 to start her career.

Todd Pletcher trains Malathaat, a Curlin filly that owner Shadwell Stable purchased for $1.05 million as a yearling. She won all three of her starts in 2020, then started her 2021 campaign in April with Grade 1 victories in Keeneland’s Ashland Stakes and Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Oaks.

The Belmont Stakes was considered as a target for Malathaat following her Kentucky Oaks victory, but Pletcher chose to wait until later in the summer for the CCA Oaks. Shadwell executive Rick Nichols said when that decision was made that “a hard race in the Belmont might jeopardize the rest of the year.”

Pletcher will try to score an eighth CCA Oaks victory Saturday with Malathaat, while jockey John Velazquez aims for his sixth win in the event.

Clairiere, second choice on the morning line, won Fair Grounds’ Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) in February but is winless in three starts since. Maracuja makes her first start since running seventh in the Kentucky Oaks, while Rockpaperscissors enters off an allowance win at Indiana Grand.

Here is a look at the field for the 2021 Coaching Club American Oaks (trainer and jockey in parentheses) with morning-line odds:

1. Malathaat (Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez), 2-5

2. Maracuja (Rob Atras, Ricardo Santana Jr.), 6-1

3. Rockpaperscissors (Rodolphe Brisset, Luis Saez), 15-1

4. Clairiere (Steve Asmussen, Irad Ortiz Jr), 9-5

TimeformUS’ pace projections forecast a race with “no speed” and show Malathaat going out to the lead under Velazquez. The filly came from fifth place to first to win both the Ashland Stakes and Kentucky Oaks.

CCA Oaks links

Can Malathaat stay unbeaten? Matt Shifman runs through the CCA Oaks’ short field and sees the Shadwell filly as the top choice.

Reinier Macatangay looks back at Malathaat’s recent efforts, noting that the filly “holds no margin for error.” He offers three reasons to doubt her invincibility in the CCA Oaks.

J. Keeler Johnson has Malathaat among four fillies from his watch list running this weekend at Del Mar and Saratoga.

Trainer Rodolphe Brisset talked to the NYRA Press Office about Rockpaperscissors, his lightly raced CCA Oaks starter.

A Clairiere win Saturday would put Steve Asmussen one victory closer to becoming North America’s all-time winningest trainer. Ron Flatter spoke about Asmussen’s chase with the family of the late Dale Baird, the current record holder.

Other Saturday stakes

Courtesy of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, here is a look at other graded stakes races taking place Saturday across North America. All post times are EDT.

3:43 p.m. – $175,000 (about $140,000 US) Nassau Stakes (G2), Woodbine, TVG

Fox Hill Farm’s Jolie Olimpica headlines a full and balanced field of 12 entered in Saturday’s Nassau Stakes from Woodbine. Undefeated in her native Brazil in three starts in 2019, Jolie Olimpica has raced exclusively against graded stakes company since being imported to the United States, winning two of six starts. Jolie Olimpica, the 5-2 favorite in the Nassau, finished third as the beaten favorite in the San Simeon (G3) in her most recent start in March. Another Time, a winner of two of four starts at Woodbine, is the second choice in the morning line at 6-1.

4:19 p.m. – $200,000 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3), Pimlico, TVG

Three Diamond Farm’s graded stakes winner Field Pass has been installed the 8-5 favorite against five other contenders in Saturday’s BWI Turf Cup at Pimlico. Field Pass is winless in three races in 2021, however, two of those losses came by narrow margins against formidable competition in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland in April and the Wise Dan Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs in June. Victor Carrasco is named to ride Field Pass, who is trained by Mike Maker. Two other graded stakes winners will contest the BWI Turf Cup: Godolphin’s homebred 2020 Del Mar Derby (G2) winner Pixelate, and Calumet Farm’s 5-year-old English, winner of the 2019 Virginia Derby. (G3)

6:13 p.m. – $200,000 Caress Stakes (G3), Saratoga, FS2

Robin Sparkles looks to extend her winning streak to three when she takes on five other fillies and mares in the 5½-furlong Caress Stakes on the Saratoga turf for owner Michael Schrader and trainer Bruce Brown. The New York-bred Elusive Quality filly, who will break from post 2 under Jose Ortiz, scored her maiden win last August in a Saratoga turf sprint and won a six-furlong allowance/optional claiming turf event at Belmont Park in her most recent start. Pennsylvania-bred Caravel will make her Saratoga debut in the Caress Stakes and seeks her third straight win. The Mizzen Mast filly exits Monmouth Park’s five-furlong Goldwood Stakes on the turf and picks up the services of Irad Ortiz, Jr. for breeder/co-owner/trainer Elizabeth Merryman and new co-owner Bobby Flay. Flay purchased a majority interest in Caravel, who will break from the rail, from Merryman after the filly impressed last out at Monmouth. Jakarta, another Pennsylvania-bred entry, is winless in five 2021 starts after winning four times last year for owner Three Diamonds Farm and trainer Mike Maker. The 6-year-old Bustin Stones mare finished fourth behind Robin Sparkles in her most recent start in which she stumbled at the break. Luis Saez has the mount on Jakarta from the outside post.

8:36 p.m. – $250,000 Eddie Read Stakes (G2), Del Mar, TVG

Del Mar will present a stakes doubleheader Saturday with the 48th running of the Eddie Read Stakes and the 54th edition of the $200,000 San Clemente Stakes (G2). The Eddie Read, named for Del Mar’s long-time publicity director and contested at 1 1/8 miles on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course, has drawn a field of seven older stakes horses. Cannon Thoroughbred LLC’s Smooth Like Strait, with Umberto Rispoli in the irons, is the 9-5 morning line favorite. A son of Midnight Lute, Smooth Like Strait has won seven of 15 lifetime starts and is coming off a front-running victory in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on May 31 where he defeated fellow Eddie Read contenders Say the Word and Restrainedvenegence. LNJ Foxwoods’ millionaire United, ridden by Flavien Prat and trained by Richard Mandella, is the second choice in the morning line at 5-2. The son of Giant’s Causeway is the defending champion, having won last year’s Eddie Read, and is coming off a disappointing fourth place finish in the Charles Whittingham (G2) at Santa Anita on May 29.

9:36 p.m. – $200,000 San Clemente Stakes (G2), Del Mar, TVG

Going Global, ridden by Prat and trained by Phil D’Amato, is the 4-5 morning line favorite in the San Clemente, named for the Orange County beach town to the north of Del Mar. Going Global is undefeated in four starts, all at Santa Anita on the turf, since being imported from Ireland. The 3-year-old Irish-bred filly scored an impressive victory in the Honeymoon Stakes (G3) on May 22 in her most recent effort. Kaleem Shah’s Madone, trained by Simon Callahan and ridden by Juan Fernandez, is the second choice in the morning line at 4-1. Madone finished sixth in the Honeymoon in May behind Going Global after capturing the Senorita Stakes (G3) at one mile at Santa Anita in early May. The San Clemente will be contested at the same one-mile distance on the turf and has drawn a full field of 12.

CCA Oaks preview

From the New York Association Press Office:

Shadwell Stable’s undefeated Malathaat has demonstrated class and determination through five wins in as many lifetime starts and will vie to keep her perfect ways afloat in Saturday’s 105th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks going nine furlongs for 3-year-old fillies at Saratoga Race Course.

The Coaching Club American Oaks was named in honor of a club formed in 1875 for which a membership requirement was to be able to navigate a coach and four horses with a single group of reins. Inaugurated in 1917, the historic event often attracts the winner of the Kentucky Oaks and has seen 14 fillies sweep the Kentucky Oaks-CCA Oaks double, including Hall of Famers Princess Doreen (1924), Dark Mirage (1968), Davona Dale (1979), Bold ‘n Determined (1980), and Open Mind (1989).

Multiple fillies have used the CCA Oaks as a steppingstone to Champion 3-Year-Old Filly honors, including Ruffian (1975), Wayward Lass (1981), Mom’s Command (1985), Ajina (1997), Ashado (2004), Smuggler (2005), and Questing (2012). Three of the last five winners of the CCA Oaks have notched such honors with Songbird (2016), Abel Tasman (2017), and Monomoy Girl (2018).

?Two-time Grade 1-winner Malathaat arrives at the CCA Oaks off a hard-fought triumph in the Kentucky Oaks on April 30 at Churchill Downs, where she engaged in a stretch duel with graded stakes winner Search Results and won by a neck, garnering a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure.

The Kentucky Oaks triumph came after a successful sophomore bow in the Ashland (G1) on April 3 at Keeneland where she tracked leisurely fractions and closed in on Pass the Champagne in the final half-furlong to win by a head.

During her juvenile campaign, Malathaat notched stakes triumphs at Aqueduct in the Tempted and Demoiselle (G2) after giving Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez his 2,000th Belmont Park victory in October.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will look to extend his seven-win record in the prestigious race when he saddles Malathaat. A victory would give Pletcher a third CCA Oaks triumph with a Kentucky Oaks winner, having sent out Ashado and Princess of Sylmar (2013).

“She’s a very gifted filly,” Pletcher said. “She’s just been perfect so far and she’s a pleasure to train, and just does everything right. When you have one that’s undefeated you just want to keep that intact and hope that everything goes smoothly and that she’s able to show her capabilities once more.”

Malathaat could also provide her multiple champion-producing sire Curlin his third CCA Oaks winner after Curalina (2015), also trained by Pletcher, and last year’s winner Paris Lights.

Bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Malathaat is the first offspring out of the A.P. Indy broodmare Dreaming of Julia, who captured the 2012 Frizette (G1) and the 2013 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) for Pletcher.

“She’s a bigger physical than Dreaming of Julia and maybe Dreaming of Julia was a tad quicker than she is,” Pletcher said. “But she’s just so efficient and has a long stride and it seems like she’s bred to get better now. She’s growing into that big frame. She’s fun to have in the barn and I’m looking forward to get her going again.”

Malathaat was initially campaigned for an earlier return to action.

“We did miss a little time with her, and she was a little bit sore, so we took it easy with her,” said Shadwell Stable’s vice president and general manager Rick Nichols. “Todd had her training real well into the Ashland. I loved the way that she fought in the Oaks. She just has so much class and determination.”

Malathaat has settled into her surroundings at Saratoga and recently breezed a half-mile in 48.05 seconds July 17 over the main track in company with Mother Goose (G2) winner Zaajel.

“She’s doing great and seems to be loving Saratoga,” Nichols said. “The main thing about her is early on, she had such an effortless gallop. She covers the ground so easily. It doesn’t look like she has to work hard at all.”

Pletcher said he is grateful for his relationship with Shadwell, for whom he also has campaigned recent graded stakes winner Mutasaabeq.

“We’ve been blessed to have received some of their horses and have built some good relationships so far,” Pletcher said. “To have (graded stakes winners) Mutasaabeq and Zaajel and Malathaat, we’re off to a good start and happy to be part of the team.”

Shadwell purchased Malathaat for $1.05 million from the Denali Stud consignment at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Shadwell Stable’s founder Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum passed in March, and Nichols said Malathaat could dawn a new era for the prestigious racing and breeding operation.

“Physically, she’s about as perfect as you can get,” Nichols said. “She just looked like a horse that would have a lot of class. She had a very attractive head, beautiful balance, and her limbs were good. As soon as I saw her at the sale, I knew Sheikh Hamdan would love her. Malathaat could be the foundation mare of the next generation for his family.”

Velazquez, who has guided Malathaat to three of her five wins, retains the mount from post 1. A five-time winner of the CCA Oaks, Velazquez seeks to become the standalone winningest jockey in the race’s history.

Two Kentucky Oaks participants face Malathaat once more, including Beach Haven Thoroughbreds’ Maracuja, who was seventh in the Kentucky Oaks.

The Rob Atras-trained daughter of third crop sire Honor Code broke a touch slow in the Oaks but made considerable ground to run seventh.

“In the Oaks, she broke a little flat footed, but we’re hoping she breaks sharper and won’t be too far back in a shorter field,” Atras said. “She was down on the inside and going into the first turn she got shuffled back. She made a good run late and I was happy with the performance. She just needs to break sharper and get in a more tactical position.”

Prior to the Kentucky Oaks, Maracuja was a third-out maiden special weight victress going 6½ furlongs over the Aqueduct main track en route to a runner-up finish in the Gazelle (G3) on April 3 at the Big A.

“She came back really well, and we skipped the Acorn and were targeting the Mother Goose, but she wasn’t quite right,” Atras said.” She’s doing well right now. She bounced out of it well. We worked her three times and I’m hoping she’s good enough to run a top race.”

Jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. will guide Maracuja from post 2.

Stonestreet Stables’ Clairiere, fourth in the Kentucky Oaks, arrives off a close third to Zaajel in the Mother Goose for Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen.

The bay daughter of Curlin attempts a second graded stakes victory after notching her seasonal debut in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) on Feb. 13 at Fair Grounds over Travel Column. Clairiere was second to Travel Column in the next out Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).

A Kentucky homebred, Clairiere is the first offspring out of the three-time Grade 1-winning Bernardini mare Cavorting, who earned over $2 million through a lifetime record of 13: 8-1-1.

Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. earned his first Grade 1 victory when guiding Questing to victory in the 2012 CCA Oaks and will ride Clairiere from post 4.

Completing the field is allowance winner Rockpaperscissors for WinStar Stablemates Racing, who swept the exacta in last year’s CCA Oaks with Paris Lights and Crystal Ball.

Trained by Rodolphe Brisset, the daughter of Distorted Humor broke her maiden at a one-turn mile in September at Churchill Downs and did not race again until June 21, where she defeated older allowance company at Indiana Grand by 9¾ lengths.

Breaking from post 3, Rockpaperscissors will be ridden by Luis Saez.

The Coaching Club American Oaks is slated as Race 5 on Saturday’s 11-race card, which also features the $200,000 Caress (G3). First post is 1:05 p.m. EDT. Saratoga Live will present daily television coverage of the 40-day summer meet on FOX Sports. For the complete Saratoga Live broadcast schedule, and additional programming information, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule.

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