By Richard Rosenblatt
From three of the most beautiful racetracks on the planet – Del Mar, Saratoga, and Royal Ascot — thoroughbred racing moves forward on Saturday with wagering up and fans flocking to the rail to take in the action.
The top race of the day is the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) for 3-year-olds fillies at the Spa with unbeaten Malathaat the 2-5 favorite in a field of four – yes, just a quartet entered for a prestigious race won by champions including Monomoy Girl, Songbird, and Ashado.
At Del Mar, there’s a pair of Grade 2 turf stakes, the $250,000 Eddie Read and the $200,000 San Clemente; and at Royal Ascot there’s the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (G1) – a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeder’s Cup Turf (G1).
“America’s Day at the Races” on Fox Sports will broadcast live from Saratoga from 1-7 p.m. ET on FS2; and on Sunday from 1-2 p.m. on FS2, 2-3 p.m. on FS1 and 3-6 p.m. on FS2.
TVG will broadcast Saturday from Del Mar, Delaware Park, Gulfstream Park, Monmouth Park, Woodbine and other tracks.
Malathaat, owned by Shadwell Stable, won the Ashland (G1) on April 3 in her only other start in 2021.
“She’s a very gifted filly,” Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, looking for an eighth CCAO victory, said. “She’s just been perfect so far and she’s a pleasure to train, and just does everything right. When you have one that’s undefeated you just want to keep that intact and hope that everything goes smoothly and that she’s able to show her capabilities once more.”
This is Europe’s midsummer showcase and headlines the day at Royal Ascot. Aidan O’Brien sends out a pair in the field, dual-Classic winner Love, who won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot in her seasonal debut, and Broome, recent winner of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1).
Also entered in a six-horse field were Epsom Derby (G1) winner Adayar and Mishriff.
Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Malathaat, looking to go 6-for-6, is the overwhelming choice in the 105th running of the CCAO.
A daughter of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, Malathaat breaks from the rail under John Velazquez.
Clairiere, fourth in the Kentucky Oaks, won the Rachel Alexandra (G2) earlier this year and was third in the Mother Goose (G2) at Belmont Park last time out. Irad Ortiz, Jr. has the mount leaving from post 4.
Maracuja, seventh in the Oaks, and Rockpaperscissors, an allowance winner last time, fill out the field.
A field of six is entered with Robin Sparkles looking for her third consecutive win.
Trained by Bruce Brown, the New York-bred broke her maiden last year at Saratoga and won a 6-furlong allowance/optional claimer at Belmont in her most recent start.
Caravel also seeks a third straight win, coming into the race off a victory in the 5-furlong Goldwood Stakes at Monmouth. Irad Ortiz, Jr. has the call.
Smooth Like Straight is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the 48th edition of the race named for Del Mar’s long-time publicity director.
A field of seven is entered.
Trained by Michael McCarthy, Smooth Like Strait will be ridden by Umberto Rispoli as the horse seeks his eighth victory in his 16th career start. He won the Shoemaker (G1) at Santa Anita on May 31 is his previous start.
Going Global is the 4-5 morning-line favorite in a full field of 12. Unbeaten in four starts (all at Santa Anita, on turf) since arriving from Ireland, the 3-year-old filly won Honeymoon Stakes (G3) on May 22 in her most recent effort. The filly is trained by Phil D’Amato.
Madone, trained by Simon Callahan, is the second choice at 4-1.
Jolie Olimpica, bred in Brazil, tops the 12-horse field as the 5-2 favorite. Since arriving in the U.S. in 2020, she is 2-for-6, finishing third in her previous start, the San Simeon (G3) in March.
Time is the 6-1 second choice.
Field Pass is the 8-5 favorite in a field of six even though he has yet to win in 2021. The 4-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid ran fourth is the Wise Dan (G2) at Churchill Downs on June 26. He has a career record of 19-6-2-3 for owner Three Diamonds Farm and is trained by Michael Maker.
Also entered are graded stakes winners Pixelate (2020 Del Mar Derby) and English Bee (2019 Virginia Derby but 0-for-his-last-10 starts).
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.