Short-priced favourite Mr Malek's number shot up on the board as the young Australian jockey cantered him back to scales, but he was surprised when he was not the only one being led in after the running of the $70,000 War Affair 2015 Stakes, a Class 3 race over 1200m on Friday night.
Mr Malek ($6) had to burn some petrol to work across from his awkward barrier to take a sit outside leader Makkem Lad (Vlad Duric, $13), but he looked still full of running when Moloney set him alight at the top of the straight.
But the task of reeling in Makkem Lad proved to be tougher than they expected.
Up to the 200m, Donna Logan's brave frontrunner was giving the increasingly strong impression he wouldn't be knocked off his perch while Mr Malek was not putting in the big bounds as he did at his previous three wins, albeit in lesser company.
But Moloney never threw in the towel, driving Mr Malek hard to the line to finish in the same stride as Makkem Lad.
With the naked eye, it looked like the greater momentum had swung with Mr Malek on the outside, with some even swearing he had won by a head, but the judges were unable to split them after a close examination of the photo.
"I thought I won, I'll have to look at that photo," said Moloney.
"Reverse the barriers, and he wins on his own. He also sprawled at the start, which he's never done before, but luckily, he recovered quickly.
"But from what he's done tonight to win in Class 3, not even Inferno was able to do that (beaten in second last time out by Siam Warrior), so full credit to him."
Taking up the leading roles from the get-go all the way to the business end, Mr Malek and Makkem Lad never gave the rest a look-in.
Even though they were no slouch, Lim's Craft (Simon Kok Wei Hoong), So You Too (Michael Rodd), Wassergeist (John Powell) and Absolvido (Ruan Maia) were all left clutching at straws when the two leaders drew clear in the home straight.
Only the latter was able to put some indent into the margin, steaming home from near-last to take third place another 2 ¼ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 9.82secs for the 1200m on the Long Course.
"I thought it'd be a dead-heat. He's done a good job, and as I said before, it's very hard for these three-year-olds to win in Class 3," said Freedman.
Logan was also full of praise of his protégé's courageous display, especially against the horse they had tagged as the one to beat.
"He's such a tough little horse. Vlad gets on very well with him," said the Kiwi handler.
"We thought he could finish in the top four tonight even though Mr Malek stood out. His turf form is not the best, but to be fair, it's been in Group races and he had bad draws.
"Both the horse and the jockey showed they had big hearts in that win."
With that fourth win from five starts, Mr Malek has now rounded up around $140,000 in stakes earnings for the Oscar Racing Stable while Makkem Lad is around the quarter-million mark with that fourth win and four seconds under the belt for the Eden Park Stud Racing Stable.