SARATOGA SPRINGS — It took a year, but Clairiere caught up with Malathaat in size.
It took 1:39.32, and Malathaat couldn’t catch Clairiere in the Grade II Shuvee at Saratoga Racetrack on Sunday.
The two 4-year-old fillies, both daughters of Double Horse of the Year Curlin, faced off for the sixth time, and for the second time in a row, Clairière was better, using a move on the rail under Joel Rosario coming out of the second corner to win by a length and a half on Malathaat.
For the second day in a row a highly anticipated duel did not take place, and although this one was much closer, Clairiere won with authority on a day when coach Todd Pletcher said Malathaat did not look like his usual energy in the paddock. before the race.
On Saturday, a duel between Nest and Secret Oath did not materialize when Nest edged Coaching Club American Oaks by 12 lengths 1-4.
Trainer Steve Asmussen said Clairiere, who was coming off a header victory over Malathaat in Grade I Ogden Phipps, can compete better with her rival this year because she is a much more physically mature filly.
“It’s really fun to see his physical development,” he said. “We were near Malathaat in the [2021 Kentucky] Oaks, in the paddock, and you could see how much bigger Malathaat was in the Kentucky Oaks. And then next to her today in the paddock here, you can see how much more comparable we are, physically.
Pletcher added blinders to Malathaat’s gear for the first time in 11 career starts to eliminate some distractions for the stretch run, but gear change or not, he was worried about his behavior even before the winner of the 2021 Eclipse Prize enters the arena.
“I was very worried about leaving the paddock,” he said. “When she came in, she was super quiet. I don’t know if she reacted badly to the heat. She’s normally a very classy mare, not really lively, but she was dull.
“And she seemed to remain boring in the post-parade, and for a horse having blinkers on for the first time, it was just a very boring performance all the way. Then I do not know. I’ve never seen her so calm in the paddock before. I was worried, leaving the paddock, maybe she wasn’t handling the heat well. Even though she wasn’t sweating or anything, she just didn’t show any energy.
The Shuvee only drew four horses, and Exotic West kicked things off with a slow lead pace that allowed the other three to follow her in a tight diamond formation before Crazy Beautiful took over before the second turn. .
Rosario attempted to bring Clairiere outside for a clear race spot up the stretch, but was blocked by Malathaat, ridden by John Velazquez, then had to check the heels of Crazy Beautiful in front of Clairiere.
Luckily for Rosario, Exotic West had started to back up, which gave him an inside opening at the end of the turn.
“I tried to hold the horse in there, that’s the horse to beat,” Velazquez said. “I tried to hold it back… but I didn’t have enough in the way.”
“I was always looking to see where there was room to go, and it looked like it was opening up inside, and I just had to go,” Rosario said.
Clairiere and Malathaat passed Crazy Beautiful either side of her and fought from eighth to sixteenth, but Malathaat couldn’t keep up.
“We had the trip we wanted,” Pletcher said. “We decided to go out and launch an initiative, but it [Velazquez] had to shove her even to do that. And then we were maybe hoping Joel would come back, so we were exactly where we wanted to be, but Johnny said she put in a tenth of her normal effort.
“What a great race,” said Asmussen. “Moderate fractions, they came home in a really good time. She’s just a very fast mare right now.
Clairiere closed out her 3-year-old season with a fourth-place finish at 49-1 Marche Lorraine in the Breeders’ Cup distaff, as Malathaat was a header ahead of Clairiere, the fourth time Malathaat had finished ahead of her.
Asmussen sent Clairiere to the Stonestreet Training and RehabilitationCenter in Ocala, Florida for a short break, after which Stonestreet trainer Ian Brennan reported that she had shown improvement in her training.
“And he was perfect,” Asmussen said. “She came back in breeze more impressively than when she finished her 3-year-old year, and I think her races shined.
“Joel said he felt very comfortable. He said she was very willing under him and liked how she felt.
Clairiere finished behind Malathaat in the CCA Oaks and Alabama last year (Malathaat won Alabama and finished second in the CCA Oaks), but has the upper hand so far this season.
She will therefore continue to be pointed to the Grade I Personal Ensign on Travers Day on August 27.
“The Personal Ensign was the reason to be here, and it ran two solid races last year at Saratoga, and we expect better this year,” Asmussen said.
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Categories: On the track, Sports