Malibu Stakes Betting Preview

By: Ace the “Horse Whisperer”


The highlight of the Boxing Day card for the opening of Santa Anita Park’s winter meet has to be the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes, as multiple Grade 1 winner Taiba ships home to compete against three-year-olds for one last time. A field of nine total will be going seven furlongs on the main dirt course for the $300,000 prize pool. This one will be carded as Race 10, going to post at 6:39 p.m. (ET). I think this race is all about who is going to take second.

(1) Forbidden Kingdom- 3/1 Morning Line Odds

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Oh, what could have been for this all-speed wanna-be? Once the Kentucky Derby favorite, and now just a multiple Grade 2 winner without a Grade 1 win. He got hurt on the Derby trail and missed a significant portion of his three-year-old season.

Nevertheless, his last third-place finish gives some people hope, but not this handicapper. This one trick pony doesn’t break well, yet all he can do is sprint.

JJ Hernandez is staying on and is hot as of late as he is trying to cement himself as the leading rider in So Cal. Richard Mandella has won this race six times. Too bad this won’t be his seventh. Not in this lifetime.

(2) Messier- 6/1 Morning Line Odds

This horse seems broken, but if that were the case, then why are the connections putting him back into a Grade 1? They dazzled as a two-year-old, fizzled as one of the favorites in the Kentucky Derby, and were off for a long time before coming back and doing nothing at Keeneland on Breeder’s Cup eve.

John Velasquez is staying up and winning at 16%. Bob Baffert seems to believe in this one and wins 29% of the time when he runs back beaten favorites in other races.

(3) Apprehend- 8/1 Morning Line Odds

This horse two back popped a 102-speed figure here at Santa Anita in a win. They are now cutting back in distance. It’s a huge class drop, but if anyone can pull the upset, it’s the duo of Ramon Vazquez (17%) and Peter Miller (18%).

(4) Nakatomi- 10/1 Morning Line Odds

This one jumped off the page and won an impressive optional claiming race at Keeneland last out, beating Messier. They are improving and have shown they can run against graded company, but the only question is whether or not they are good enough to step up and win a Grade 1. If they do win, Tyler Gaffalione (18%) would be thrilled as he’s coming all the way to the west coast for this stud. Wesley Ward (25%) has to be pleased with how this one shipped in.

(6) Taiba- 6/5 Morning Line Odds

This one is the goods. Taiba is a multiple Grade 1 winner. Mike Smith is winning at 21%.
Bob Baffert is winning at 26%.

Pick for the Race: (6) Taiba

He is going to go off at 3 to 5 for the Malibu Stakes. His second-best would win easily here. The cutback in distance could be cause for concern, but this one is going to be a paid workout, and then they’ll go into the Pegasus as the favorite.


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