Trainer Graham Motion believes his ‘consistent and hard-trying’ filly Malakeh commands her place in the $175,000 Nassau Stakes at Woodbine this weekend.
She faces a field of six older fillies and mares at Woodbine on Saturday in her attempt to snare a first North American stakes success.
Motion won last year’s Nassau with Secret Message and knows what is required. The Maryland-based trainer sees plenty to like in his daughter of Harbour Watch; with Malakeh coming into the race off the back of two victories in allowance company.
In her 12 months at the Fair Hill barn of Motion, the filly has continued to improve with each of five runs after arriving from Germany.
She was runner-up at Keeneland on her first start before winning at Belmont on her third start and now heads for Woodbine in fine fettle after those allowance wins, both at the one-mile Nassau distance.
Her impending outing on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course at Woodbine will be a first start on Canadian soil and the trainer sees it as a good fit.
“I think we’ve decided that this is what she likes to do, distance-wise,” said Motion. “I don’t see why (Woodbine turf) wouldn’t suit her. I’m sure it’s in great shape.”
Last year’s award-winning apprentice jockey Kazushi Kimura has been booked to ride, with Malakeh drawn in gate six for the seven-runner field. Her forecast morning line odds suggest she’ll enjoy 9/5 favouritism, just shading Amalfi Coast for Kevin Attard and Rafael Manuel Hernandez.
According to Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Motion, he got something of a shock when Malakeh was turned over on debut for his yard; though that form now reads rather well.
She had come across from Europe with a decent reputation, having finished second in the German 1,000 Guineas and third in the Meilen Trophy; both at Group 2 level.
Her current connections picked her up via the Goffs Goodwood Sales in 2018 and Motion suggests she has a likeable attitude.
“She’s so honest. To be truthful, I couldn’t believe when I ran her in the allowance race at Keeneland that she was beaten. It turns out she was beaten by a pretty serious filly (Juliet Foxtrot),” the trainer added.
“So, I was very confused about her form right away because I liked her so much, that I couldn’t imagine her not sailing through that condition. But it’s funny how things work out. She’s never run a bad race, really. She’s very consistent and hard-trying.”
Amalfi Coast is already a graded stakes winner, though her one run in 2020 was a disappointing one. She is however a dual winner at Woodbine, including the Grade 2 Bessarabian Stakes.
Elizabeth Way, a four-year-old Frankel filly, joins Another Time and Eyeinthesky in a competitive heat, with Nantucket Bucket and Lunar Garden the forecast outsiders of the seven-runner line-up.
The Nassau signals that opening contest of the four-race ‘Ladies of the Lawn Series’ at Woodbine, which offers $75,000 in bonuses to the top performers based on points accumulated in the designated graded turf events for fillies and mares.