By Nicholas Godfrey
Saratoga: Coaching Club American Oaks G1 $500,000 1m1f, dirt, 3yo fillies
Maracuja (Rob Atras/Ricardo Santana)
Saratoga, notorious as the ‘Graveyard of Champions’, claimed its latest victim when Kentucky Oaks winner Malathaat was beaten at long odds on by near 15-1 shot Maracuja.
Unbeaten in five previous starts, Malathaat was sent off a 30-100 favourite in a four-runner race for the CCA Oaks. She made the running, harried all the way by second favourite Clairiere – but as soon as she had fought off the persistent attentions of that rival, outsider of four Maracuja joined issue in the stretch.
The pair battled stride-for-stride to the wire, Maracuja just getting her head in front where it mattered to provide a first G1 winner for her trainer Rob Atras.
The winner, never before successful in graded company, had been seventh behind Malathaat in the Kentucky Oaks on her most recent outing.
Shall we talk about it?
Rob Atras (Maracuja’s trainer): “She broke really sharp, which I was happy with, and she was kind of right there. They all seemed like they were coming and I thought Ricardo made a smart move by backing off and coming around the outside. What a race.
“She loves the two turns. She puts a lot into her gallops every day. The further, the better for her. She’s obviously improved a lot the past few months.”
John Velazquez (Malathaat’s jockey): “You have to play the cards you’re dealt. She was doing great – she was comfortable in what she was doing, but she had to fight the whole way around and obviously set it up for somebody else. She’s a great horse and you can’t take that away from her.”
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