(Trainer Todd Pletcher / Photo by Gene McLean)
From the NYRA Media Team:
Shadwell Stable’s Malathaat continued a perfect start to her career with a rallying score over Millefeuille in Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Demoiselle, a nine-furlong test for juvenile fillies at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Curlin bay was an impressive debut winner at Belmont Park in October ahead of a last-out 7 3/4-length romp in the Tempted, a one-turn mile on November 6 at the Big A.
Kendrick Carmouche established command aboard Traffic Lane into the first turn as Joel Rosario urged Millefeuille into second position to the outside of Malathaat, who exited the inside post under Hall of Famer John Velazquez.
Traffic Lane marked the opening quarter-mile in 23.69 seconds and the half-mile in 48.50 on the sloppy and sealed main track with Millefeuille pinned to her hip as Malathaat angled off the rail and was asked to maintain her position by Velazquez.
Millefeuille assumed the lead into the final turn as Traffic Lane gave way and Malibu Curl cruised into second position while Velazquez continued to work on Malathaat through three-quarters in 1:13.33. With much to do as the field turned for home, Velazquez angled Malathaat outside of Malibu Curl at the quarter pole and began to pick up her feet inside of the slow-starting Cafe Society to take dead aim at the leader.
Millefeuille continued to find more inside the final furlong but Malathaat was making up ground with powerful strides and got up comfortably to secure the three-quarter length win in a final time of 1:52.36. It was 4 1/2-lengths back to Malibu Curl, who completed the trifecta by a length over Cafe Society.
The top four finishers earned 10-4-2-1 points toward the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, scheduled for April 30, 2021 at Churchill Downs.
Traffic Lane and Celestial Cheetah rounded out the order of finish. Dollar Mountain and Caramocha were scratched.
The victory marked the sixth Demoiselle win for Pletcher to lead all trainers, having previously scored with Smok’n Frolic , Ashado , Disposablepleasure , Unlimited Budget  and Stopchargingmaria .
Pletcher said Malathaat struggled from the inside post.
“She wasn’t comfortable inside,” said Pletcher. “I think she was unsure of the footing early on. In her first two starts, she had easy trips without much dirt in her face. I was worried at multiple points of the race. Sometimes drawing the rail is great and this time it seemed to have backfired on us a couple of times. In the final eighth of a mile, she was able to get into her comfort zone and rhythm and that’s when she showed what she’s all about.
“She did it with her ears pricked, so in the end, it was impressive that she could do that,” he continued. “Some lesser quality horses might have thrown in the towel at some stage, but when she got rolling, she was impressive.”
It was a record seventh Demoiselle victory for Velazquez, whose previous winners include Smok’n Frolic, Roar Emotion , Sis City , Mushka , Unlimited Budget and Wonder Gadot .
“Her class was what kept her going and got here there on time,” said Velazquez. “She was never comfortable and not running into a spot I wanted. She never really put that much effort into keeping a spot. Finally, when I tipped her out heading to the quarter-pole, she started running.
“When I got her out, she put her ears up,” added Velazquez. “Little by little, when she got to the other horses, she started going.”
The well-bred Malathaat, purchased for $1.05 million at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, is out of the Pletcher-trained Dreaming of Julia, who captured the 2012 Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park.
“I see some similarities [with Dreaming of Julia],” said Pletcher. “They are both nice fillies to be around and very professional in the mornings and very sweet around the barn. They are very easy to take care of and they both have shown they want to run long. Dreaming of Julia was a really high-quality filly and I think this filly is of the same ilk.”
Bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Malathaat banked $82,500 in victory while remaining perfect through three starts. She returned $2.90 as the 2-5 mutuel favorite.
Live racing resumes Sunday at the Big A, Closing Day of the 18-day fall meet, with a nine-race card offering a pair of rich New York Stallion Stakes Series races, including the Great White Way for 2-year-olds and the Fifth Avenue for juvenile fillies, with purses of $250,000 each. Also featured on Closing Day is the $100,000 Garland of Roses at six furlongs for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.