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The last major race of the season for 3-year-olds is set for this Saturday at Santa Anita Park after rain forced the track to push the race back two days. It has drawn a field of just five, but there is still plenty of star power entered here. The contest will be one of seven stakes events on the card, which also includes great races such as the San Antonio Stakes (G2), the Mathis Brother Mile Stakes (G2), the La Brea Stakes (G1), and the American Oaks (G1). The Malibu Stakes will go off as race nine on this great day of racing.
The headline horse will be Omaha Beach, who looks to rebound after a disappointing runner-up effort last time out in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). The race prior to the Breeders’ Cup may have been the best of his career, though, as he defeated sprinting superstar Shancelot in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1). Saturday, he’s drawn the far outside post of 5, with Mike Smith once again aboard for the ride.
The biggest challenger to Omaha Beach could be Complexity, the lone shipper. Trainer Chad Brown brings this son of Maclean’s Music into the event after he destroyed allowance/optional claiming company at Aqueduct last time. Last year, this horse won the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park before injury issues forced him to miss most of this season. He’ll break from post 2 with Javier Castellano aboard.
The other three entries in this race all come from trainer Bob Baffert. His most notable horse is the Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Roadster, who comes into this event off of a poor off-the-board showing in the Native Diver Stakes (G3) at Del Mar. Baffert will also start the speedy Much Better, as well as a temporary new addition to his barn, Manny Wah. Both of these horses will be stepping up in class.
The full field for the Malibu Stakes from the rail out: Much Better, Complexity, Manny Wah, Roadster, and Omaha Beach.
#5 Omaha Beach – This horse is giving every indication that he is ready to show up with a monster effort. His workouts have been superior to his rivals leading up the race, and his one-turn local record is flawless. However, he was disappointing last time out in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), finishing second to Spun to Run in somewhat of a dull effort. With that in mind, he does come into the race needing redemption, making this an important test. The pace should set up very well for him in this spot and this outside post position will give Mike Smith plenty of options for where to sit up the backside. If he shows up with a top effort, then they’ll be hard-pressed to beat him to the wire on Saturday.
#2 Complexity – Trainer Chad Brown brings this horse to the west coast after dominating rivals last time out at Aqueduct in an allowance/optional claiming event. That race was visually impressive and earned him a solid speed figure. His back class shows that he belongs in this spot as well, with a win in the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park as a 2-year-old on his resume. He could be ready to run the biggest race of his career in this spot and can upset the heavy favorite.
#1 Much Better – We know this horse will set the pace, especially from his inside post position. It seems like the strategy will be run to run them off their feet right from the start, which could work if he gets out to a lonely lead. However, it is more likely that he gets caught late in the race while still holding on for a minor award. It is possible that he is just a small cut below this type of competition, but he has proven to be a serviceable horse.
#4 Roadster – The Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner definitely makes sense from a class prospective; however, it has been a while since we’ve seen him run a decent race. The cutback to 7 furlongs will be to his benefit, though, after a poor effort last time out going two turns at Del Mar in the Native Diver Stakes (G3). If he can get back into top form, then he might be able to pull an upset, which will make him playable if he does not get over-bet.
#3 Manny Wah – He seems to be overmatched and outclassed in this spot. It would be a major surprise to see him make a lot of noise against these types of horses.
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