Prior to Saturday's Summit of Speed, Calder specialist Malibu Mint had never won a graded stakes race. Now she's a grade I winner after a tremendous burst of speed approaching the eighth pole overpowered Prospective Saint at odds of 23-1 in the $500,000 Princess Rooney Handicap (gr. I).
It was the first grade I race run in Calder's 36-year history.
Ridden by Josue Arce, Malibu Mint crushed the field by nearly four lengths while completing the six furlongs in 1:10 while helping to key some outrageous show prices when 3-10 choice Dubai Escapade faded from contention in the stretch and finished sixth.
Prospective Saint, ridden by Eddie Castro, finished a clear second by 4 3/4 lengths over the pacesetter Hot Storm and David Flores.
Malibu Mint, who has won her last three starts at Calder, paid $49.20, $26.60, and $79.40. Prospective Saint returned $15.80 and $65.80. Hot Storm was $32 to show.
Arce said the win was the biggest of his career.
"Honestly, coming into this race I thought that the favorite was going to be almost impossible to beat because she has been so good since she came to the United States. I thought that our best chance was to sit back since there was so much speed in the race and see if we could close on them in the stretch."
James Chapman trains Malibu Mint for owners Martha Jane and John Mulholland. The Kentucky-bred 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon
--Ivory Mint (Key to the Mint) was a $15,000 Keeneland September yearling buy in 2003. She posted her first win since taking Calder's Chaposa Springs Handicap by three lengths Dec. 31.
"She obviously handles the track here very well, but I don't think that mattered today," Chapman said. "She's just doing so well. I haven't got any specific plan for her right now."
Malibu Mint was rated in mid-pack as Hot Storm at the rail, stalked by Dubai Escapade, set fractions of :22 3/5 and :44 2/5. Hot Storm responded when challenged by Dubai Escapade leaving the turn, as Arce angled Malibu Mint out for a clear run through the stretch. She drew clear under steady pressure after reaching even terms with Prospective Saint nearing the furlong marker.
Malibu Mint earned $294,000 for her fifth lifetime win in 18 starts and has now banked $435,129. She was coming off a second-place finish behind Ever Elusive in Churchill Downs' Winning Colors May 27 when beaten by a neck at odds of 50-1. Prior to that, she stumbled and lost her rider in the Humana Distaff Handicap (gr. I) on Kentucky Derby day, grabbing a quarter in the process.
Ebony Breeze finished fourth, followed by Annika Lass, Dubai Escapade, and Leave Me Alone.
Dubai Escapade had won her last two starts – Keeneland's Madison (gr. II) in April and Belmont's Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II) a month ago – by a combined margin of nearly 11 lengths. But, after making a charge at the leader for Edgar Prado at the top of the stretch, she lacked any finish while carrying top weight of 122 pounds - six more than the winner.
"I'm very disappointed," trainer Eoin Harty. "Edgar said she didn't feel like her herself today. I can't blame the heat. It's hot in New York, and we just got here yesterday. I can't see anything wrong with her, but I'm going back to the barn and see."