SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Shadwell Stable’s Malathaat arrived in the final jumps to collar Search Results for a half-length score in Saturday’s 75th renewal of the Grade 1, $600,000 Personal Ensign, a nine-furlong test for older fillies and mares, at Saratoga Race Course.
“It’s all about seeing her perform to her capabilities and with all due respect to the rest of the field, we always feel like when she shows up and runs her A-race, that she’s the top 4-year-old filly in the country and I think she showed that today,” said Malathaat’s Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
The hotly-anticipated race was billed as a rematch between Malathaat and the “now” horse Clairiere, winner of her last two in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont and Grade 2 Shuvee at the Spa over her familiar foe, the reigning Champion 3-Year-Old Filly.
A talented field included Letruska, the reigning Champion Older Dirt Female, and Grade 1-winner Search Results, who entered from a solid three-length win in the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park. Completing the group was Crazy Beautiful, a millionaire daughter of Liam’s Map with three graded wins to her name.
Letruska, the defending race winner, led the compact field of five through an opening quarter-mile in 23.99 seconds over the fast main track with Search Results tracking in second and Crazy Beautiful in third.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez guided Malathaat to the rail from the outermost post 5 into the opening turn and advanced up the rail to third position down the backstretch through a half-mile in 48.21 with Clairiere trailing in fifth.
Letruska took the field into the final turn as Search Results pressed on to her outside and Malathaat loomed full of run with Clairiere still a distant fifth. Velazquez angled Malathaat off the rail for the stretch run as Search Results finally wore down and took over the lead from Letruska inside the final furlong. But there would be no denying Malathaat, who found her best stride late and surged to victory in a final time of 1:48.30. It was a further two lengths back to Letruska in third with Crazy Beautiful and Clairiere completing the order of finish.
The victory added to a memorable week for Velazquez, who secured his record-extending 1,000th win at Saratoga on Thursday. He is also Saratoga’s all-time leader in stakes wins  and Grade 1 wins .
Velazquez said he was pleased to see Malathaat rebound from a dull effort last out in the Shuvee.
“It was very, very nice to see her come back to prove how good a horse she really is,” said Velazquez, who added to past Personal Ensign success with Summer Colony , Storm Flag Flying  and Love and Pride . “We know she’s a good horse. It’s hard to tell why she was so dull last time. But today, I just made sure that she was in the game and she showed it. When I pulled her out at the three-sixteenths pole and asked her, she was in the game.”
The victory marked the third Personal Ensign win for Pletcher following scores with Fleet Indian  and Love and Pride. The Hall of Famer commended Velazquez for the sharp steer aboard the blinkered Malathaat.
“I was glad that Search Results was at least keeping some pace but one of my concerns going in was the potential to not be a good pace set up and we’ve added the blinkers more to keep her more focused than to add more speed and just let her run her race. I thought Johnny rode a super race,” Pletcher said.
Malathaat and Clairiere had squared off on six previous occasions ahead of the Personal Ensign with the former finishing in front in the first four attempts, including wins in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs and Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga.
Joel Rosario could offer no excuses for the dull effort from Clairiere.
“She broke well and then they were kind of getting away from me. She took a long time today to find her stride,” Rosario said. “She was still coming in the end. She was acting with a little energy [in the gate] and sometimes those things happen. She jumped up a couple times but she was OK. It was not her day, I guess.”
By Curlin and out of Grade 1-winner Dreaming of Julia, Malathaat was bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings. She banked $320,000 in victory while improving her record to 12-8-3-1 and returned $8.40 for a $2 win bet.
Live racing resumes Sunday at Saratoga with a 10-race card featuring the $135,000 Better Talk Now in Race 8 and the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina Handicap, offering a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, in Race 9. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
Saratoga Live will present daily coverage and analysis of the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Saratoga Race Course, and the best way to bet every race of the summer meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
By Keith McCalmont/NYRA Press Office
Photo: Malathaat defeats Search Results in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign (Joe Labozzetta)