LEXINGTON, Ky. – Shadwell Stable’s champion Malathaat roared past champion Letruska at the top of the stretch and drew clear by 5¼ lengths to win the 67th running of the $600,000 Juddmonte Spinster (G1) for fillies and mares Sunday afternoon.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, Malathaat covered the 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track in 1:51.05. The victory is the fifth in the race for Pletcher and the second for Velazquez.
Pletcher’s other victories came with Panty Raid (2007), In Lingerie (2012), Get Lucky (2015) and Valiance (2020). Velazquez won aboard In Lingerie.
With the victory, Malathaat earned a fees-paid berth to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) to be run here Nov. 5. She finished third, beaten a half-length, in that race last year at Del Mar.
Malathaat gave Pletcher his third “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge victory in two days here coming on the heels of Forte’s win in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) for the FanDuel Juvenile (G1) and Annapolis’ victory in the Coolmore Turf Mile (G1) for the FanDuel Mile (G1) Presented by PDJF.
Played Hard, 2021 winner Letruska and Princess of Cairo engaged in a three-way sprint to the first turn with Malathaat content to save ground along the inside behind the trio.
On the backstretch, Letruska took control after a half-mile in :47.90 and 6 furlongs in 1:12.25 as Velazquez moved Malathaat off the rail to the outside for clear running. On the far turn, Malathaat quickly ranged up alongside Letruska and put her away and then shook off a minor bid from Army Wife to complete a solo run to the finish.
A Keeneland sales graduate, Malathaat is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Curlin out of the A.P. Indy mare Dreaming of Julia. The victory is her fifth Grade 1 triumph, and she remained perfect in three Keeneland starts with victories in the 2021 Central Bank Ashland (G1) and the Baird Doubledogdare (G3) to open her 2022 campaign.
Malathaat added $372,000 to her bankroll Sunday and swelled her career earnings to $2,750,825 with a record of 13-9-3-1.
Malathaat returned $2.88 and $2.10 with no show wagering. Army Wife, ridden by Luis Saez, returned $8.14 to place and finished 3¼ lengths in front of Played Hard, who was 8¼ lengths in front of Letruska. Princess of Cairo finished fifth.
Quotes from the $600,000 Juddmonte Spinster (G1)
Todd Pletcher (winning trainer of Malathaat): “It’s great when you have one in their third year of training, and you get to know them pretty well and kind of know what they like. You could tell that this year she’s a bigger, stronger version of last year’s self and needed a little more training. That’s why last year we opted to go from the Alabama (G1) to the Breeders’ Cup. But (this year) we thought with an older, more mature filly that’s carrying more condition, that a prep race in between was more appropriate.”
On realizing the pace didn’t develop as expected: “I was concerned there wasn’t going to be a whole lot of pace. My biggest concern was that Letruska might get loose on the lead, and when she wasn’t, there was at least some entertainment there. I thought that helped, and it looked like (jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) was always very comfortable.”
On having the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland: “She seems to love the track here. She’s three for three here now, so that’s always encouraging, to know one handles the surface well.”
John Velazquez (winning jockey): “The first quarter of a mile I knew was slow. Then when the other horse (Letruska) got down inside, it was like, ‘OK, there’s at least going to be a little bit of pace,” and he (jockey Tyler Gaffalione) kind of held his position going into the backstretch. At the half-mile pole, I had to make my decision, whether to stay behind that horse or go around him and make sure I put a little bit of pressure by the three-eighths pole. I got there a little bit too soon. I was a little hesitant to get to the lead a little too soon. By the quarter pole, I saw Tyler was tapping on the horse (Letruska), and I thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to pass him and hopefully that discourages him.’ Then (Malathaat) kept running today. Normally when she gets to the lead she slows down, and she did, but at the same time she was running a little bit. Right at the wire, she (moved sideways) and she almost left me at the wire. But she was much the best today. Thanks to (trainer) Todd (Pletcher) and the whole team for a great job.”
Luis Saez (rider of runner-up Army Wife): “She had a pretty good break. That was the spot we were looking for. She made a pretty nice move at thehalf mile. We thought we were going to be right there with the winner, but she kept going. Malathaat is a big, good filly.”
Joel Rosario (rider of third-place finisher Played Hard): “She broke really well on top. It was a good trip. I was going down the backside and I just stayed where I was because those two horses came and challenged me. She kept fighting, though, and I thought it was a good race for her. “
Tyler Gaffalione (rider of fourth-place finisher Letruska): “She missed the break and it took her out of her game.”
Keeneland Press Release
Photo by Coady