Santa Anita kicks off its annual meeting Thursday with an intriguing 11-horse field in the $200,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-olds.
The 7-furlong Malibu kicks off the Strub series, which continues with the San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 11 and the Charles H. Strub Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 1. The 85-day Santa Anita winter/spring meet runs through April 20,
Among the leading contenders in the Malibu is Gotham Stakes (gr. III) winner Mayakovsky, who turned in a bullet 1:10 4/5 work Sunday at Santa Anita breezing out of the gate. Michael Tabor's talented sophomore would be making only his third outing since the Gotham in March for trainer Patrick Biancone. Sixth in the Santa Anita Derby in April, the son of Matty G has been idle since a fourth-place finish as a short-priced favorite in the Amsterdam Aug. 3. He underwent what was described as minor throat surgery a short time later, but has been out of action since.
The Malibu also marks the return of Triple Crown participants Sunday Break, making his first starts since running third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), U S S Tinosa, out of action since a sixth-place showing in the Preakness (gr. I), and Castle Gondolfo, who was 12th in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). He'll make his first start for owner Paul Reddam and trainer Craig Dollase.
Sprint specialists Debonair Joe, a 52-1 shot who won the Dec. 7 Vernon O. Underwood (gr. III) at Hollywood, and My Cousin Matt, winner of four of his past five starts, including the Great State Challenge Sprint Stakes Dec. 7, are also entered. $200,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I), 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs
PP Horse, Weight, Jockey
1 Mayakovsky (FL), 119, Tony Farina
2 Sunday Break (JPN), 119, Kent J. Desormeaux
3 Timely Action (KY), 115, Alex O. Solis
4 American System (IN), 117, Patrick Valenzuela
5 U S S Tinosa (OH), 115, Russell A. Baze
6 Castle Gandolfo (KY), 115, Corey S. Nakatani
7 Shah Jehan (KY), 115 , David Flores
8 My Cousin Matt (FL), 119, Ramon A. Dominguez
9 Total Limit (KY), 115, Laffit A. Pincay, Jr.
10 Debonair Joe (CA), 119, Julie A. Krone
11 Golden Hare (KY), 117, Mike E. Smith