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Malibu Stakes Preview: Sharp Azteca Takes on Baffert Trio

SHARP AZTECA - The Pat Day Mile Gr III - 92nd Running - 05-07-16 - R10 - CD - Coady Photography
Coady Photography

A close third in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 5, trainer Robert Falcone, Jr.’s Mind Your Biscuits heads a field of 10 sophomores going seven furlongs in Santa Anita’s Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes on opening day, Monday. Beaten 1 ¼ lengths by Bob Baffert’s likely Eclipse Champion Sprinter Drefong, Mind Your Biscuits will have to contend with three Baffert runners in the Malibu—Santa Anita Derby runner-up Mor Spirit, up and comer Ten Blessings and Jazzy Times, who hopes to rebound off a disappointing third in a second condition allowance Dec. 4 at Del Mar.

Top Choice

#7 Sharp Azteca – Lookout for this one!  If he runs his race and is healthy he will be very tough to beat in this spot.  After a break of over 100 days he returned last time out in a small stakes at Laurel Park and destroyed the field signaling he’s back and maybe better than ever.  That race was a clear prep for this one, and it was run at the same distance of seven furlongs.  He has a shot to be the speed of the speed, and could run them off their feet if need be, but he also has the benefit of drawing towards the outside so the jockey could place him nearly anywhere.  This kind of speed on the Santa Anita track is just too dangerous for me not to have him on top.

Horses to Use in Multi Race Wagers

#9 Awesome Banner – How about this stat for you…In races at a mile or less Awesome Banner has made nine starts and has finished first in SEVEN of them while finishing second in the other two.  That shows just how tough he is going short, and he also is a Grade 3 and Grade 2 winner this year.  Last time out he dominated in a small stakes at Mahoning Valley but actually got DQ’d from the top spot even though he won easily.  They will be making a jockey change today which should help, and I expect him to have every chance to win.

#2 Mind Your Biscuits – This horse with the funny name has been a model of consistency all year long, and picked up a Grade 2 win at Saratoga this summer.  He also was only beaten four lengths by Drefong in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop, and just over one length in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint by Drefong again.  With Drefong out of this race it can only help his chances, and if the pace sets up for him he will be storming home late.  It’s almost guaranteed that he’ll come with his normal late closing run.

#4 Ten Blessings – Just based on his recent showing at Santa Anita you have to give him a real chance of winning in this spot.  I believe he is Bob Baffert’s best chance in this race, and I love that he ran in an allowance last time out at today’s distance of seven furlongs as he’ll be running now.  In that race he sat just off the pace and destroyed the field to win by over four lengths.  This will obviously be the toughest field he’s ever faced, but he might be ready for the class jump after that last performance and with Baffert on his side.

Exotic Plays

#8 Mor Spirit – You would think 7 furlongs would be something Mor Spirit would really struggle with, however sometimes he just has a way of clunking up for second or third and you don’t even notice him.  He might be able to do the exact same thing in this race, although I would call him a real long shot to actually win.  This is more than likely just a prep race for a two turn race down the road.  He’ll be interesting to follow this year as he was highly regarded at this time last year.

Party Crashers

#5 Jazzy Times – At first the sky seemed to be the limit for this horse as he was impressive in a maiden special weight on Kentucky Derby day at Churchill Downs on debut.  However, he has done nothing but let us down  since that day for the most part.  He’s raced six times since that debut and has only won once which was an allowance race at Del Mar.  The frustrating part is he works like a horse that is ready to run a big race, but never quite runs to those works.  He’s the type that could eventually turn it around, and if he does a lot of us will feel dumb.  Not worth a play unless the price floats up to a close to double digits.

Throw Outs

#1 Navy Hymm – Looks like the best of the throw outs, but recent defeats to horses that are running in this race have me concerned that he won’t be good enough to compete with the top flight of horses.  Also don’t like the fact he’s drawn the rail.

#10 Horse Greedy – Really tough spot for him to try stakes company for this first time, especially since he hasn’t had much luck against allowance company.  Back to dirt which is a positive, but not good enough to compete with these.

#6 Who’s Out – Has been beaten by several of these that are in this race today, and hasn’t won a race in a long time.  Also, has not faired well against stakes company in his career so looks to be a bit overmatched.

#3 Semper Fortis – Cuts back in distance which makes him a bit of a question mark, but hasn’t shown enough to get too exited about betting him.  Will have to improve.

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