Fourteen horses are entered for the $250,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-olds Monday, the headline race on the traditional opening day of Santa Anita's winter/spring meeting.
If all start, it would be largest Malibu field since 1969 when First Mate, ridden by Jerry Lambert, defeated a Malibu-record 17 rivals.
There has been no racing in Southern California since the Hollywood Park autumn meet ended Dec. 19, so the anticipation for the start of the 71st Santa Anita season is strong. In addition, the switch from Hollywood Park means a return to turf racing, absent this year since the Oak Tree meet ended at Santa Anita in early November.
The seven-furlong Malibu is a wide-open affair this year. East Coast invader Attila's Storm, winner of the Nov. 24 Fall Highweight at Aqueduct after finishing fourth at 45-1 in the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) on Oct. 29, and Wilko, the 2004 Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner, head the field.
Patrick Valenzuela rides Attila's Storm, who carries 119 pounds and breaks from post number 4
"It looked like a good plan to come here," said Attila Storm's trainer, New York-based Richard Schosberg. "So far everything's worked out well. We'll try to win the Breeders' Cup Sprint next year. I think we have a horse that has a chance to redeem himself off this year's fourth-place finish."
J. Paul Reddam and Susan Roy's Wilko, ridden by Corey Nakatani, drew the far outside post. The son of Awesome Again
is winless in six starts since capturing the BC Juvenile at Lone Star Park in a 28-1 upset on Oct. 30, 2004. He was third in his comeback race, beaten a neck, in the six-furlong Larkspur at Golden Gate Fields on Dec. 10.
Assigned 115 pounds for the Malibu, Wilko breezed four furlongs at Hollywood Park in :49 1/5 on Thursday. "He did it real easy," trainer Craig Dollase said. "We're all set."
Illinois Derby (gr. II) winner Greeley's Galaxy, the co-high weight at 121 pounds under Kent Desmormeaux, and Osidy, the Richard Mandella-trained grass specialist who will be ridden by Alex Solis, race coupled in the pari-mutuel wagering for owner B. Wayne Hughes.
Greeley's Galaxy has been on the sidelines since finishing seventh in the Preakness (gr. I) while bleeding. Trainer Warren Stute decided to turn him out and the trainer reports that the son of Mr. Greeley has not experienced the problem since his return to training.
Fusao Sekiguchi's Fusaichi Rock Star returns from a four month layoff after finishing seventh, well beaten by Lost in the Fog in the King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga. Trained by Bob Baffert, the son of Wild Wonder
won the San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) at the Malibu distance on Feb. 13 in his only previous start at Santa Anita.
Two supplemental stakes races support the Malibu, including the Sir Beaufort Stakes, which was split into two divisions on the turf. Nine were entered in the first division of the one-mile turf race, 10 in the second.
Chinese Dragon, unbeaten in three starts on Santa Anita's turf course, and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Buzzards Bay, who has never raced on grass, top the contentious first division.
Eastern Sand, winner of the Silky Sullivan (gr. IIIT) at Golden Gate on Nov. 5 and second in four grass starts at Santa Anita for Jeff Mullins, heads the second division. Cosmonaut, second in the Commonwealth at Churchill Downs on Nov. 13 despite an eventful trip, is a son of Lemon Drop Kid
trained by Patrick Biancone.
The $125,000 California Breeders' Champion Stakes for 2-year-olds at seven furlongs is also on the program. Brite Maneuvers and Direct Connect, the one-two finishers in the California Cup Juvenile at Oak Tree Nov. 6, head the competitive event for California-breds. A major contender is Da Stoops, second in the Hollywood Prevue (gr. III) for Baffert.$250,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 3:30 p.m.), 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Thor's Echo (CA), 121, Victor Espinoza
2. Greeley's Galaxy (KY), 121, Kent J. Desormeaux
3. Yes He's a Pistol (FL), 115, Rene R. Douglas
4. Attila's Storm (KY), 119, Patrick A. Valenzuela
5. Shamoan (IRE), 119, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
6. Proud Tower Too (CA), 119, David Cohen
7. Unbridled Energy (KY), 117, Garrett K. Gomez
8. Jack's Wild (CA), 115, Kerwin John
9. Alexandersrun (FL), 115, Martin A. Pedroza
10. Diligent Prospect (FL), 115, Jon K. Court
11. Fusaichi Rock Star (FL), 117, Shinji Fujita
12. Ninety Fine (CA), 115, Javier Santiago
13. Osidy (KY), 117, Alex O. Solis
14. Wilko (KY), 115, Corey S. Nakatani