Saturday’s featured race is the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks. Run over nine lengths on the main track, it features the smallest field of the meet to date, with only four horses entered. Of those four, all eyes will likely be on undefeated Malathaat (2-5).
The filly was last seen taking the Grade I Kentucky Oaks in April in what has been so far the best of her five career races. The distance suits her, and despite the time off since the Kentucky Oaks, her workouts suggest she is ready to go today. Layoffs do not tend to be a problem for thoroughbreds trained by Todd Pletcher, so one should expect her to continue her winning ways.
A win for her Saturday would be a return to form for her connections, Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez, who have struggled uncharacteristically early in the meet. Pletcher enters the day with one win, and Velazquez has yet to pick up his first. Their slow start should not deter prospective bettors, but Malathaat’s potential off-odds could.
Clairiere (9-5) has the best chance of upsetting Malathaat. She finished fourth behind the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks. He last race was the Grade II Mother Goose on June 26, where she stumbled early, but fought back after going five-wide and finished third. With a better start, she has the speed to stick with Malathaat.
Maracuja (6-1) is looking to bounce back from her showing in the Kentucky Oaks, where a slow start overshadowed her ability to keep pace with the leader from the middle of the pack. That start kept her from threatening, but if she can overcome that, she could be competitive.
This will be the first stakes race for Rockpaperscissors (15-1), who won her last two races convincingly against lesser fields. She may end up setting the pace for this race by default, which is not her style.
The best bet of the day is on Split Then Double (3-1) in the eighth, assuming that race stays on turf. The filly ran well in her return from a layoff back in June, losing by a head to Star Command. Star Command followed up that race by moving up a class and dominating that field in a 10-length win. Watch for her to attempt to close this one.
The best long shot is Breaking Stones (15-1) in the first race. He’s got some momentum in a field full of question marks. If he gets the right ride, he has the potential to start the day off with an upset.
4-Breaking Stones, 6-Ashaar, 1-Giocare, 7-Royal Realm.
2-Freedomofthepress, 3-So Enchanting, 8-Miss Bonnie T, 5-Lady Valentine.
2-Win With Pride, 6-Strolling, 3-Cantrell Hill, 5-Alcools.
2-Lyrical Poet, 4-Bardolino, 7-Vodka Lemonade, 3-Count Down.
1-Malathaat, 4-Clairiere, 2-Maracuja, 3-Rockpaperscissors.
2-Labarde, 7-Watasha, 8-Volcanic, 1-Midnight Worker.
4-Hombre, 11-Space Launch, 1-Performing Arts, 10-Never Explain.
1-Split Then Double, 3-Rastafara, 2-Baby Blythe, 5-Midnight Choir.
8-Flash Magic, 7-Zainalarab, 2-Makingcents, 6-Caramel Swirl.
2-Robin Sparkles, 4-In Good Spirits, 5-Flower Point, 1-Caravel.
6-Just Okay Is Not Okay, 10-Mike’s Girl, Friedman Entry (1-Cara’s Dreamer and 1A-Chasing Cara), 8-Choose Happiness.
Deputy Flag (seventh).
Record for meet: 20 for 70.
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