Kentucky Oaks: Malathaat, Simply Ravishing headline G1 Ashland

Keeneland’s Central Bank Ashland draw story (Coady Photography photo above Simply Ravishing capturing Keeneland’s Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades under Luis Saez):

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY (March 30, 2021) — Shadwell Stable’s undefeated Malathaat and Harold Lerner, Magdalena Racing and Nehoc Stables’ Simply Ravishing headline a field of six 3-year-old fillies for Saturday’s 84th running of the $400,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) going 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

The Central Bank Ashland carries 170 points toward qualification for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on April 30 at Churchill Downs on a 100-40-20-10 scale for the first- through fourth-place finishers. The stakes will go as the ninth race on Saturday’s 11-race program with a 5:30 p.m. ET post time. First post time Saturday is 1:05 p.m.

A total of 34 fillies that have run in the Central Bank Ashland have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks, most recently champion Monomoy Girl in 2018.

Favored at 9-5 on Mike Battaglia’s morning line is Malathaat, who is making her 2021 debut. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Malathaat closed her 2020 campaign with a victory in the Demoiselle (G2) at Aqueduct. Joel Rosario, who won the 2014 Central Bank Ashland with Rosalind (who won the race in a dead heat with Room Service), has the mount and will break from post five.

Trained by two-time race winner Kenny McPeek, Simply Ravishing (5-2) romped to a 6¼-length victory in last fall’s Darley Alcibiades (G1) before finishing a troubled fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). The Central Bank Ashland will mark her 2021 debut.

Luis Saez, who has been aboard for all three of Simply Ravishing’s victories, has the mount and will break from post position three.

Four fillies have completed the Alcibiades-Ashland double with the most recent being Take Charge Lady in 2001-2002. McPeek trained Take Charge Lady.

“It will be good to get her going,” McPeek said. “She has been ready for a while. It will be nice to be back to Keeneland, where she won the Alcibiades (G1). She has been ready since early to mid-March, but I did not want to ship her from Florida. I have (Alcibiades) runner-up Crazy Beautiful, and I did not want to run them against each other in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) (won by Crazy Beautiful.) Simply Ravishing is extremely talented and she won the Alcibiades, so it just seemed logical to run her back in the Ashland.”

Others to have done it are Silverbulletday (1998-1999), Optimistic Gal (1975-1976) and Doubledogdare (1955-1956).

Willis Horton Racing’s Honeybee (G3) winner Will’s Secret is the third choice at 7-2. Trained by Dallas Stewart, who won the 2019 Central Bank Ashland with Out for a Spin, Will’s Secret has won her past three races, including the Martha Washington at Oaklawn Park. Jon Court has the mount and will break from post six.

The field for the Central Bank Ashland, with riders from the rail out, is: Curlin’s Catch (Chris Landeros, 8-1), Pass the Champagne (Javier Castellano, 4-1), Simply Ravishing (Saez, 5-2), Moon Swag (Adam Beschizza, 10-1), Malathaat (Rosario, 9-5), Will’s Secret (Court, 7-2). All starters will carry 121 pounds.


Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.