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ARCADIA, CA – Having apparently spent his past eight months off learning to stalk and pounce, Charlatan proved his superiority by crushing his rivals in Saturday’s $300,000 Runhappy Malibu Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 4 under Mike Smith as the 8/5 second choice, the usually fleet-footed Charlatan settled into a stalking position just behind and outside the 6/5 favorite Nashville.
The undefeated Nashville posted uncontested opening fractions of :21.81 and :43.95, but Charlatan ranged up under his own power in the far turn and took the lead before the top of the stretch.
Though he ducked in once straightened for home, Charlatan drew off impressively to win the 7-furlong fast dirt sprint by 4 1/2 geared-down lengths in 1:21.50.
“First of all, my hat’s off to (trainer Bob Baffert) and his whole crew to get this horse ready off an eight-month layoff,” Smith said. “To run against these types of horses was a feat itself, but I always thought he was a special horse. I’ve had the opportunity to watch him, California is his home base, so I’ve seen a lot of him and always wanted a chance to ride him. When Bob told me I got the call, man, I’ve been kind of on cloud nine ever since. He is extremely special.”
Express Train to take second by a 1/2-length over Collusion Illusion, while Nashville faded steadily to fourth.
Independence Hall and the winner’s stablemate Thousand Words completed the order of finish in the race restricted to 3-year-olds.
Charlatan has now crossed the wire first in all 4 career starts, though a positive drug test later disqualified him from his Arkansas Derby (G1) title. The Speightstown colt has now earned $247,200 for co-owners SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Stonestreet Stables, Frederick Hertrich III, John Fielding, and Golconda Stables.
“I have a great team behind me and great ownerships with wonderful people,” Baffert said. “They stuck by me with all the negative stuff, you need that support. Our job is to get results, that’s what its all about, and I’m grateful to have all these great horses and continue on.”
Charlatan returned $5.20 to win, $3.60 to place, and $2.60 to show. Express Train brought back $13.40 to place and $6 to show, while Collusion Illusion paid $3 to show.
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