Malathaat is 5-2 choice in Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs

Pat McDonogh / Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Malathaat is the 5-2 morning-line favorite and will start from the No. 10 post for Friday’s 147th Kentucky Oaks.

The race for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs comes a day before the Kentucky Derby.

Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, Malathaat has won all four starts. Pletcher is going for his fourth Oaks victory and first since 2013 with Princess of Sylmar.

“I’m basically fine with the draw,” Pletcher said. “I probably would have preferred to be a bit more toward the middle. But if it was a case of drawing inside or outside, I’ll take the outside. It’ll work out fine.”

Search Results, winner of all three races and trained by Chad Brown, and Travel Column, trained by Brad Cox, are co-second choices at 3-1. They drew, respectively, the No. 12 and No. 6 posts Monday for the 1 1/8-mile race. Clairiere, trained by Steve Asmussen, is the 5-1 third choice from the No. 3 post in the $1.25 million race.

Malathaat’s victories include the Ashland at Keeneland on April 3 in which she beat fellow Oaks entrant Pass the Champagne by a head with Joel Rosario aboard. Rosario has Millefeuille, a 20-1 choice from the No. 14 and last slot.

Cox, a Louisville native, has two chances to earn his second consecutive Oaks victory and third in four years. He is also saddling Coach, who will start from the No. 9 post as one of three 50-1 longshots.

Travel Column finished 18 points behind in second to Search Results on the Oaks trail and has a Churchill Downs win among three in her career, with a second and a third in five starts.

Cox figures to have the Kentucky Derby favorite in Essential Quality when that 20-horse field is drawn Tuesday.

In the Oaks, he believes Travel Column can navigate from her post with jockey Florent Geroux. He says the filly has enough speed and doesn’t necessarily need to be on the lead.

“But we’ll see how it unfolds and what other horses are doing,” he said. “Florent knows her very well and how she gets away. We’re in a good position with her.”

Clariere has alternated victories and seconds in her four starts, including two this year. She won the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds in February and finished 2 } lengths behind Travel Column in the Fair Grounds Oaks on March 20.

Post time is 5:51 p.m. EDT.

Kentucky Oaks entrants by post position, with jockey and odds from the rail out:

1. Pauline’s Pearl (Ricardo Santana Jr.), 20-1; 2. Maracuja (Kendrick Carmouche), 20-1; 3. Clariere (Tyler Gaffalione), 5-1; 4. Crazy Beautiful (Jose Ortiz), 15-1; 5. Pass the Champagne (Javier Castellano), 15-1; 6. Travel Column (Florent Geroux), 3-1; 7. Ava’s Grace (David Cohen), 50-1; 8. Moraz (Flavien Prat), 30-1; 9. Coach (Luis Saez), 50-1; 10. Malathaat (John Velazquez), 5-2; 11. Will’s Secret (Jon Court), 30-1; 12. earch Results (Irad Ortiz Jr.) 3-1; 13. Competitive Speed (Chris Landeros), 50-1; 14. Millefeuille (Joel Rosario), 20-1.

Watch the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, April Friday, April 30 from 12 to 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN, and the NBC Sports app.

Forte works out, waits for Belmont Stakes clearance

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NEW YORK — Forte, the early Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched on the day of the race, worked out in preparation for a possible start in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

Under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte worked five-eighths of a mile for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the colt’s second workout since being scratched from the Derby on May 6.

“It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level,” Pletcher said. “It seems like everything is in good order.”

Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby because of a bruised right front foot. In order to be removed from the list, the colt had to work in front of a state veterinarian and give a blood sample afterward, the results of which take five days.

“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”

Pletcher said Kingsbarns, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont. The colt is showing signs of colic, although he is fine, the trainer said.

Another Pletcher-trained horse, Prove Worthy, is under consideration for the Belmont. He also has Tapit Trice, who finished seventh in the Derby, being pointed toward the Belmont.

Judge grants Churchill Downs’ request for summary judgment to dismiss Bob Baffert’s lawsuit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted Churchill Downs’ motion for summary judgment that dismisses Bob Baffert’s claim the track breached due process by suspending the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.

Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert in June 2021 after his now-deceased colt, Medina Spirit, failed a postrace drug test after crossing the finish line first in the 147th Kentucky Derby. The trainer’s request to lift the discipline was denied in February, keeping him out of the Derby for a second consecutive May.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday that Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert did not devalue his Kentucky trainer’s license. It cited his purse winnings exceeding $1 million at Keeneland in Lexington and stated that his argument “amounts to a false analogy that distorts caselaw.”

Jennings denied CDI’s motion to stay discovery as moot.

The decision comes less than a week after Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness in his first Triple Crown race in two years. His record eighth win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown came hours after another of his horses, Havnameltdown, was euthanized following an injury at Pimlico.

Churchill Downs said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s favorable ruling as in Baffert’s other cases.

It added, “While he may choose to file baseless appeals, this completes the seemingly endless, arduous and unnecessary litigation proceedings instigated by Mr. Baffert.”

Baffert’s suspension is scheduled to end on June 2, but the track’s release noted its right to extend it “and will communicate our decision” at its conclusion.