Although The Lumber Guy disappointed
as the heavy 4-5 favorite in the day’s main event, the weatherman cooperated as
skies cleared by mid-morning and Santa Anita was every bit it’s majestically
iconic self as The Great Race Place opened Wednesday for the 76th
time and treated fans to a graded stakes triple header headed by the 60th
running of the Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes, for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.
The Malibu provided fans with a near
record-setting performance as longshot Jimmy Creed powered home under Garrett
Gomez to win by three quarters of a length in a rapid 1:20.36—less than two
fifths of a second off Spectacular Bid’s 1:20 flat Malibu clocking in 1980, a
track and stakes record that stood for 30 years.
Trained by Richard Mandella and
owned by B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm, Jimmy Creed had trained well since
running an even ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 3, a race in which
The Lumber Guy had run second. Ridden for the sixth consecutive time by
Gomez, the son of Distorted Humor tackled pacesetter Private Zone and Martin
Pedroza at the top of the stretch, gradually wearing him down in game
“Garrett gave him a great ride, kept
him out of the dirt as best he could,” said Mandella. “The horse doesn’t
like dirt in his face and that’s basically what bothered him in the Breeders’
Cup. We trained him behind horses and schooled him as much as we could,
so I just told Garrett it was up to him to do what he thinks best…We’ll
probably look at the Strub (Feb. 2) and the Santa Anita Handicap (March 2), all
that kind of stuff.”
Although significant rain fell
overnight and into early morning, the main track was listed as fast for the
Malibu, with splits of 22.74, 44.77 and 1:08.27 serving as ready indicators of
a glib surface.
“I was trying to follow John
(Velazquez, on The Lumber Guy) because I thought his horse would be a bit wider
than Martin’s (Pedroza) horse (Private Zone),” said Gomez. “When we
started to turn for home John’s horse started to stop and I just slid
out. It was a beautiful trip. It was a good learning experience for
this horse and he just keeps getting better…Hopefully he just continues to keep
doing what he’s doing.”
Off at 8-1, Jimmy Creed paid $19.20,
$8.80 and $7.00. Private Zone, dispatched at 15-1, held second, 2 ¼
lengths in front of Unbridled’s Note and Corey Nakatani. Private Zone
returned $11.00 and $8.00. Unbridled’s Note paid $4.40 to show.
Jimmy Creed more than doubled his
career earnings, picking up $180,000, which ran his bankroll to $313,000.
His record stands at 7-3-2-1.
As for the Lumber Guy, it obviously
wasn’t his day. “He just didn’t come with any running at all,” said
Velazquez, who flew in from Florida ride the son of Grand Slam who had been
transferred from Eastern-based trainer Michael Hushion to Neil Drysdale
following the Breeders’ Cup. “(It was) probably the first time I rode him
on a wet track, a muddy track. He was going so well the first part of the
race. I was very confident in what he was doing. I gave him his
head but he didn’t go anywhere.”
Conversely, trainer Doug O’Neill was
giddy about the way runner-up Private Zone ran.
“He ran dynamite and it looks like
he came back good,” said O’Neill. (Former jockey) Rene Douglas manages
this horse and is so involved with him. I almost did something really
stupid and sent him out of town, and Rene said, ‘Doug, I’m 100 percent behind
you but please, keep him for the Malibu and let’s have the Dubai sprint (Golden
Shaheen on March 30) as our goal. So far, so good.”