Governor Malibu

Governor Malibu

Rick Samuels

Governor Malibu Tops Empire Classic Field

Multiple graded stakes-placed Malibu Moon colt has dominated New York-breds.

Things may not have gone as well as they could have for Governor Malibu in the Empire State's most iconic 3-year-old races this season, but in starts against his fellow New York-breds since he broke his maiden in November of 2015, the Malibu Moon  colt has been dominant.

He'll remain in the state-bred ranks for the $300,000 Empire Classic Handicap Oct. 22 at Belmont Park, but a walkover is far from a sure thing. Fellow stakes winners—four of them older—Wake Up in Malibu, Good Luck Gus, Royal Posse, and last year's winner Empire Dreams are also entered for the 1 1/8-mile dirt test.

Governor Malibu's challengers have proven records in state-bred competition, but don't have the class the Christophe Clement-trained runner displayed this season.

The only graded stakes-placed horse in the field, Governor Malibu ran well with troubled trips in the Peter Pan (gr. II, second) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I, fourth), then came in second behind longshot Laoban  in the Jim Dandy (gr. II) before a noncompetitive fifth in the Travers (gr. I). But back in state-bred company in a conditional allowance Sept. 30 at Belmont, he dominated a field of six to win a 1 1/16-mile sloppy main-track event by 7 1/2 lengths.

Governor Malibu isn't the only last-out winner, however, in the field. Royal Posse, trained by Rudy Rodriguez for owners Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables, and Gary Aisquith, has won two straight New York-bred stakes—the Evan Shipman and  Alydar, both at Saratoga Race Course—and hasn't finished worse than second in his past 13 starts, dating back to May of 2015.

Empire Dreams, who defeated Royal Posse by three-quarters of a length in last year's Empire Classic, also returns off of a quality seasonal debut in September. The Tom Albertrani-trained son of Patriot Act is owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and finished a nose behind Fox Rules in the Genesee Valley Breeders' Stakes at Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack Sept. 19, his first start in nearly nine months.

Hit it Once More is one of two 3-year-olds in the field and is coming off a 12th-place finish in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II). Prior to that, the Hard Spun  colt won the New York Derby at Finger Lakes and the Albany Stakes at Saratoga back to back.

The Empire Classic is one of eight stakes for New York-breds on the Saturday Belmont card, with purses totaling $1.75 million.

In the $150,000 Iroquois, Lady Sheila Stable's graded winner Hot City Girl will seek her fourth stakes score. The City Zip filly will have to defeat fellow grade III winner Wonderment to do so.

In the $200,000 Mohawk at 1 1/16 miles on turf, multiple grade III winners Lubash and King Kreesa will seek to add to their already formidable lifetime win totals. Lubash, a 9-year-old son of Freud  owned by Aliyuee Ben J Stables, tops the field with 17 victories from 50 starts and $1,427,999 in earnings. King Kreesa, a 7-year-old, is not far off in earnings ($1,377,954) and has 11 wins from 35 starts. Kharafa completes a millionaire trifecta in the Mohawk, with 12 victories and $1,026,997 in purses.  

In the $250,000 Empire Distaff, Repole Stable's Super Surprise will seek her fourth straight victory. The Todd Pletcher-trained Giant Surprise  filly won the Aug. 26 Fleet Indian Stakes last time out at Saratoga and the 2015 Maid of the Mist Stakes, with an allowance victory sandwiched in between.

Two-time grade III winner Flipcup will seek her sixth stakes win in the $200,000 Ticonderoga at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The Milwaukee Brew  mare won the 2015 Maple Leaf Stakes (Can-III) and last visited the winner's circle in the May 28 Arlington Matron Stakes (gr. III). Both wins were on synthetic surfaces.

Entries: Empire Classic H.

Belmont Park, Saturday, October 22, 2016, Race 10

  • STK
  • 1 1/8m
  • Dirt
  • $300,000
  • 3 yo's & up
  • 5:19 PM (local)
PPHorseJockeyWgtTrainerM/L
11Wake Up in Malibu (NY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJose L. Ortiz119Charlton Baker4/1
22Governor Malibu (NY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoel Rosario120Christophe Clement2/1
33Pax in Terra (NY)John R. Velazquez114Todd A. Pletcher15/1
44Good Luck Gus (NY)Luis Saez118Rudy R. Rodriguez15/1
55Hit It Once More (NY)Javier Castellano116Gary Sciacca5/1
66Royal Posse (NY)Irad Ortiz, Jr.122Rudy R. Rodriguez3/1
77Sea Raven (NY)Emmanuel Esquivel115Kelly Rubley20/1
88Clifton Pleasure (NY)Angel S. Arroyo114Naipaul Chatterpaul20/1
99Empire Dreams (NY)Manuel Franco120Thomas Albertrani10/1