Between the two of them, Bob Baffert and Steve Asmussen have seven of
the 11 horses entered in the Grade I Malibu Stakes, Santa Anita’s
opening day feature on Monday.
Baffert, a nine-time Santa Anita training king and a member of
the Hall of Fame, has entered Racing Aptitude, Hoorayforhollywood, Smash
and The Factor. Asmussen, Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s
outstanding conditioner in 2008 and 2009, entered Rothko, Light Up the
Score and Wine Police.
The Factor is Baffert’s most accomplished runner, with three graded stakes wins on his resume, including the Grade I Pat O’Brien at Del Mar in August.
Hoorayforhollywood was second by a neck in the Delta
Mile; Smash was second in the Grade II Carry Back at Calder, while
Racing Aptitude shows two minor stakes victories, including the Yo
Eleven at Hollywood Park on Nov. 11.
Asmussen sends out Rothko and Light Up the Score on their first
stakes sojourn, but each is on a winning streak. Rothko has won three in
a row by a combined margin of 15 lengths, while Light Up the Score has
two straight wins by a combined 4 ¼ lengths.
Rothko’s most recent tally, a 6 ½ length romp on Nov. 4 at
Churchill Downs earned him a career-best Beyer speed figure of 96.
Under Julien Leparoux, the bay colt by Arch negotiated the six furlong
distance run over a muddy strip in 1:09.40. Rothko was attentive to the
pace and never looked a loser while dominating a nine-horse field.
Light Up the Score’s most recent win also came in a nine-horse
field, at Churchill Downs on Nov. 25. The Kentucky-bred son of Even the
Score won easily by 2 ½ lengths as the 7-5 favorite. He was ridden by
Wine Police was second in the Jimmy V in the mud at Churchill
Downs on Nov. 4, and was third in the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga as a
2-year-old. A Kentucky-bred son of Eclipse Champion Sprinter
Speightstown, Wine Police has an overall record of 3-1-2 from seven
The field for the Malibu, which goes as the ninth and final race
on opening day: El Pocho, Kevin Krigger; Centralinteligence, Joel
Rosario; Luckarack, Hector Berrios; Rothko, Corey Nakatani; Racing
Aptitude, Mike Smith; Hoorayforhollywood, Gomez; Light Up the Score,
Victor Espinoza; Smash, Rafael Bejarano; Associate, Ramon Dominguez;
Wine Police, Joe Talamo; and The Factor, Martin Garcia.
Hoorayforhollywood blew out four furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Wednesday in 47.20 and the Baffert-trained Racing Aptitude went five furlongs in a bullet 58.60, while Associate went five furlongs in 1:01.40 for Richard Dutrow Jr.