Buddy Gil Could Return in Malibu Stakes

Grade I winner Buddy Gil has resumed full training and is being pointed toward the Dec. 26 Malibu Stakes (gr. I) on opening day at Santa Anita, trainer Jeff Mullins said.

Buddy Gil, a gelded son of Eastern Echo, hasn't raced since finishing sixth, beaten 5 ¾ lengths, in the May 3 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and undergoing two subsequent surgeries to remove bone chips from his knees.

"He's doing good," Mullins said. "Better than ever. He's been training very well and if all goes well I hope to have him ready for the Malibu. It's great to have him back in the barn."

Buddy Gil has posted three works since his nearly five month layoff, including a half-mile in :48 3/5 at Santa Anita on Nov. 20. The work might have been faster, Mullins said, if not for some trouble the Desperado Stables color-bearer encountered during the move.

"He was down in the last sixteenth and a horse came over on him, so he had to be steadied hard before finishing up," Mullins said. "He's fine. Things like that happen sometimes."

Buddy Gil won this year's Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), San Felipe Stakes (gr. III) and Baldwin Stakes (gr. IIIT). Overall the Kentucky-bred son of Eastern Echo and the For Really mare Really Rising has banked $729,455 from a career line of 10-5-1-1.

The seven-furlong Malibu, restricted to 3-year-olds, carries a purse of $500,000 and is the first leg of the three-race Strub Stakes series for newly turned 4-year-olds. The series also includes the San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) in early January and the Strub Stakes (gr. II) in early February.