Clairiere and Malathaat: A Rivalry on the Track
In the world of horse racing, rivalries add a thrilling dimension to the sport. One of the most compelling rivalries in recent years is between two magnificent 4-year-old fillies, Clairiere and Malathaat. These talented horses share the same sire, Curlin, and the same breeder, Stonestreet Stables. Their battle for supremacy has captured the attention of racing enthusiasts, and they are set to face off once again in the Grade 2 Shuvee Stakes at Saratoga. Despite the small field of four horses, the intensity of this rivalry and the stakes involved make this race a highly anticipated event in the older filly and mare division.
A One-Sided Affair: Malathaat’s Dominance
For a while, it seemed like Clairiere would always play second fiddle to Malathaat. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Malathaat emerged victorious in their first four encounters, starting with the prestigious Kentucky Oaks in 2021. The dominance continued as Malathaat triumphed in the CCA Oaks and the Alabama, leaving Clairiere trailing behind. Even in the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Malathaat finished ahead of Clairiere, solidifying her superior position in their rivalry. Over the course of these four races, Malathaat outperformed her competitor by an impressive combined margin of 10 Â½ lengths.
The Turning Point: Clairiere’s Triumph
However, horse racing is a sport known for its unpredictability, and 2022 brought a dramatic shift in fortunes. It was in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on the Belmont Stakes undercard that Clairiere finally emerged as the dominant force, defeating Malathaat for the first time in their fifth encounter. Despite initially finding herself trailing behind the leader Letruska by a significant margin, Clairiere’s jockey, Joel Rosario, executed a perfectly timed strategy. Guiding her wide on the final stretch, Rosario relentlessly closed the gap, surpassing both Search Results and Malathaat to secure a narrow victory. This momentous win not only marked Clairiere’s second Grade 1 victory but also signaled a shift in the dynamic between these two fierce rivals.
A Relief for Trainer Steve Asmussen
Trainer Steve Asmussen, who guided Clairiere to victory in the Ogden Phipps, expressed his jubilation and relief following the race. He acknowledged the talent and commendable record of Malathaat, who was the deserving 3-year-old Champion Filly in 2021. Asmussen always had faith in Clairiere’s capabilities and was overjoyed to see her finally triumph over her formidable rival. The victory held immense significance for him and his team, and it propelled Clairiere’s career to new heights. Asmussen recognized the relentless nature of horse racing and emphasized the need to consistently prove oneself, as every race presents new challenges.
Moving Forward: The Path to Year-End Honors
While Clairiere had her moment of triumph, Asmussen remains focused on the ultimate goal: the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. He acknowledges that the battle between Clairiere and Malathaat is far from over, as more races are on the horizon. Asmussen expects two more encounters between the fillies at Saratoga this year, with the Grade 1 Personal Ensign being a notable upcoming event. Both trainers recognize the importance of the Shuvee Stakes as a key preparation race leading up to these high-profile competitions.
The Shuvee Stakes: An Opportunity for Redemption
Malathaat: Seeking to Regain Dominance
For Malathaat, the Shuvee Stakes offers a chance to bounce back and reclaim her position at the top. Throughout her career, she has displayed remarkable consistency, never losing back-to-back races. In her first start of 2022, Malathaat secured a three-quarter length victory in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare at Keeneland. However, her trainer Todd Pletcher noticed moments of lost focus during her recent races, leading him to make a crucial equipment change. Malathaat will be sporting blinkers in the Shuvee Stakes, a decision aimed at enhancing her concentration and performance. Pletcher tested the blinkers in a breeze, and the positive outcome affirmed their potential benefits.
The Contenders: Crazy Beautiful and Exotic West
While Clairiere and Malathaat steal the spotlight, two other formidable fillies, Crazy Beautiful and Exotic West, are aiming to make their mark in the Shuvee Stakes. Trained by Kenny McPeek, Crazy Beautiful has proven to be a resilient and accomplished competitor, amassing an impressive 7-5-1 record and over $1 million in earnings. However, she faces the daunting task of finding a new level to challenge the dominance of Malathaat and Clairiere. Similarly, Exotic West, who caused a 10/1 upset in the Top Flight Invitational at Aqueduct, hopes to deliver a standout performance. While their chances of victory may appear slim, both fillies remain undeterred and recognize the potential rewards of competing against such exceptional rivals.
The Shuvee Stakes promises to be a thrilling chapter in the ongoing rivalry between Clairiere and Malathaat. After years of playing second fiddle, Clairiere finally emerged as the dominant force. However, horse racing is a sport of uncertainties, where fortunes can quickly change. As the fillies prepare to face off once again, the stakes for dominance in the older filly and mare division are higher than ever before. The outcome of the Shuvee Stakes will not only shape the narrative of this captivating rivalry but also have significant implications for their future battles, including the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How many times have Clairiere and Malathaat raced against each other?
Clairiere and Malathaat have faced each other five times prior to the Shuvee Stakes. Malathaat emerged victorious in the first four encounters, while Clairiere finally defeated her rival in their fifth meeting.
2. Who is the common sire between Clairiere and Malathaat?
Both Clairiere and Malathaat share the same sire, Curlin, a renowned stallion known for producing talented racehorses.
3. What is the significance of the Shuvee Stakes in their rivalry?
The Shuvee Stakes serves as another thrilling battle between Clairiere and Malathaat, providing them with an opportunity to assert their dominance. This race acts as a crucial preparation for future high-profile events such as the Grade 1 Personal Ensign and the ultimate goal, the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
4. What recent victory propelled Clairiere’s career to new heights?
Clairiere secured a notable victory in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps, finally defeating her rival, Malathaat. This win not only marked Clairiere’s second Grade 1 triumph but also signaled a turning point in their rivalry.
5. What equipment change is Malathaat undergoing for the Shuvee Stakes?
In an effort to enhance Malathaat’s focus and performance, she will be equipped with blinkers for the Shuvee Stakes. Trainer Todd Pletcher made this decision after observing moments of lost focus during her recent races.