The Lumber Guy, whose big effort in the Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) last month produced a runner-up finish, heads a field of 10 sophomores for the $300,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I) on opening day of the Santa Anita Park winter meet Dec. 26.
The seven-furlong Malibu, race 8 on the card, follows the $300,000 La Brea Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies, which is race 4 on the program, making the Malibu the final grade I event of 2012. Also on the program is the $150,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at one mile on turf.
The probable post time for the Malibu is 3:37 p.m. PST. The race is the first leg of Santa Anita's unique three-race Strub series for 3-year-olds turning 4.
The Lumber Guy is part of a field that includes Politicallycorrect, winner of the Damascus Stakes on the Breeders' Cup World Championships undercard Nov. 3, and Unbridled's Note, runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT). Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has entered four, including grade I winner Drill.
The Malibu will see Barry Schwartz's homebred The Lumber Guy stretch out a furlong after finishing a closing second to Trinniberg by a half length with a wide trip in the BC Sprint at Santa Anita. The effort was all the more impressive considering that The Lumber Guy was fighting an inside speed bias at Santa Anita on Breeders' Cup weekend.
Previously in the barn of Mike Hushion, the gray/roan son of Grand Slam has remained in Southern California since that start and is under the tutelage of Hall of Fame conditioner Neil Drysdale. The Lumber Guy has recorded five workouts on the Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park since the Breeders' Cup, most recently posting a six-furlong move in 1:14 flat, handily, Dec. 20.
John Velazquez retains the mount on the 123-pound highweight. They break from post 4.
The Lumber Guy entered the Sprint off a clear 1 1/4-length victory in the six-furlong Vosburgh Invitational Stakes (gr. I) as the slight favorite Sept. 29 at Belmont Park. In the only seven-furlong start of his career, The Lumber Guy rolled to a 4 1/4-length victory in the Miracle Wood Stakes in February at Laurel Park.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Politicallycorrect will try for a third straight stakes win after overcoming Santa Anita's speed bias to post a 1 1/4-length tally in the seven-furlong Damascus. Politicallycorrect rallied from fourth, some 7 1/2 lengths off the pace after a half mile, to get up late.
The Kitten's Joy gelding captured the 1 1/8-mile Oklahoma Derby Sept. 30 at Remington Park prior to the Damascus for trainer Wesley Ward. Joel Rosario is back aboard Politicallycorrect, who is positioned one slot to the outside of The Lumber Guy.
Also making his first start since Breeders’ Cup Saturday is Mike McCarty's Unbridled’s Note, who switches to the main track after missing by half a length to the filly Mizdirection in the Turf Sprint on Santa Anita's hillside course. He won the Eddie D Stakes (gr. IIIT) over the downhill layout prior to that.
Racing on the dirt at Saratoga this year, the son of Unbridled's Song finished third in both the Foxwoods King’s Bishop (gr. I) and Amsterdam (gr. II) Stakes. Unbridled's Note drew nicely for his stalking style, leaving from the far outside post, and will be ridden once again by Corey Nakatani.
Jimmy Creed, hoping to rebound from his ninth-place finish in the BC Sprint, seems to be coming into the Malibu in good form with some strong works at Santa Anita. Trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella for Spendthrift Farm, the Distorted Humor colt worked seven furlongs in an eye-catching 1:24 4/5 Dec. 19. Jimmy Creed was a close third in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (gr. I) prior to the Breeder's Cup.
Drill, owned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, is the most accomplished of the Baffert quartet though the Lawyer Ron colt has not been out since capturing the Laz Barrera Memorial (gr. III) over seven furlongs at Hollywood May 12. Drill is 3-for-3 at the Malibu distance, including his neck victory in the 2011 Del Mar Futurity (gr. I). The dark bay also won the San Vicente (gr. II) at seven panels in February at Santa Anita. Martin Garcia rides from post 3.
Baffert's other entrants include Breeders' Cup also-ran Fed Biz, as well as comebacking Castaway and the lightly raced Guilt Trip.
Kaleem Shah's Fed Biz, winner of the El Cajon at Del Mar Aug. 31, was a distant eighth in the Dirt MIle (gr. I). Though it wasn't evident last time, the Giant's Causeway colt has shown plenty of speed in the past and may need to gun early from his rail post for Mike Smith.
Castaway, winner of the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park last winter, has been away since a distant ninth-place finish in the Lexington Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland in April. The Street Sense colt, owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, makes his first start at seven furlongs.
Gary and Mary West's Guilt Trip has won two of four starts since debuting in August and cuts back after a fifth in the 1 1/8-mile Discovery (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack in his stakes debut Nov. 17.
Trainer Doug O'Neill has a pair in the Malibu and neither should be taken lightly.
Zillah Reddam's Basmati won his only start since the 2011 CashCall Futurity (gr. I), taking a seven-furlong allowance over the Santa Anita main track Nov. 2. Private Zone, owned by Good Friends Stable, nearly pirated the Vernon O. Underwood (gr. III) Dec. 2 before finishing second by one length to grade I winner Smiling Tiger. The former Panama-based Macho Uno gelding was second to Politicallycorrect in the Damascus before that.
$300,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 3:37 p.m.), 3YOs, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Fed Biz (KY), M E Smith, 118, B Baffert
2. Jimmy Creed (KY), G K Gomez, 118, R E Mandella
3. Drill (KY), M Garcia, 118, B Baffert
4. The Lumber Guy (NY), J R Velazquez, 123, N D Drysdale
5. Politicallycorrect (KY), J Rosario, 118, W A Ward
6. Basmati (KY), M Gutierrez, 118, D F O'Neill
7. Castaway (KY), J Talamo, 118, B Baffert
8. Private Zone (ON), M A Pedroza, 120, D F O'Neill
9. Guilt Trip (KY), R Bejarano, 118, B Baffert
10. Unbridled's Note (KY), C S Nakatani, 118, S M Asmussen