Grade II winners Rock Hard Ten and Love of Money return from layoffs to head up Sunday's $250,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I), a test for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs that kicks off Santa Anita's 85-day winter meeting.
While Rock Hard Ten and Love of Money are standouts in the field of 12 sophomores, the distance favors the rapidly improving sprinter Mass Media. Both Rock Hard Ten, absent since a sixth-place finish as the 9-10 choice in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Aug. 8, and Love of Money, off since running sixth as the slight favorite in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont Oct. 2, figure to need a race and a little more ground.
Trained by Bobby Frankel, Mass Media is back after a 3 1/2-length triumph in the Sports Page Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct on Oct. 31. The son of Touch Gold
defeated Lion Tamer, who returned to upset Pico Central in the Cigar Mile (gr. I), while turning in a superb time of 1:21.10 for the 7-furlong Sports Page. Javier Castellano flies in from New York to ride Mass Media, who breaks from post 2.
Rock Hard Ten had an up-and-down 3-year-old campaign that peaked with a solid win in the 1 1/8-mile Swaps Stakes (gr. II) at Hollywood Park in July. Following the Haskell, the son of Kris S., who was also second in the Preakness (gr. I) and fifth in the Belmont (gr. I), was moved to the barn of Richard Mandella. He took over for Jason Orman on the decision of owners Madeleine Paulson and Ernie Moody.
Gary Stevens has the ride, breaking from post 11.
Love of Money, a Maryland-bred son of Not For Love
, ws made the favorite in the Gold Cup on the strength of a 8 1/2-length win in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) at Philadelphia Park Sept. 6. He also had a six-length victory in a Saratoga allowance race in August at the Malibu distance.
Victor Espinoza, allowed to ride in the Malibu while he serves a stewards suspension, has the assignment for the first time on Love of Money, who breaks from the rail.
Grand Reward, the regally-bred son of Storm Cat
out of the champion mare Serena's Song, makes his U.S. debut for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and owners Beverly Lewis, Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier. Grand Reward finished second in the Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes (Eng-II) on Sept. 19.
Minister Eric, who ran second to Mandella stablemate Action This Day in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) but has started just once since then, will add blinkers and Hollywood Park's autumn riding champion, Rene Douglas. He starts from the far outside.
The Malibu is the first leg of the three-race Strub series at Santa Anita. The 1 1/16-mile San Fernando (gr. II) on Jan. 15 and the 1 1/8-mile Strub (gr. II) on Feb. 5 follow.$250,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I), 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight
1. Love of Money, Victor Espinoza, 121
2. Mass Media, Javier Castellano, 119
3. Harvard Avenue, Garrett Gomez, 115
4. Stone Rain, Martin Pedroza, 115
5. Jeffries Bay, Jose Valdivia Jr., 117
6. Grand Reward, Tyler Baze, 115
7. Perfect Moon, Mike Smith, 115
8. Spellbinder, David Flores, 115
9. Lava Man, Jon Court, 115
10. Quintons Gold Rush, Edgar Prado, 121
11. Rock Hard Ten, Stevens, 121
12. Minister Eric, Rene Douglas, 115