Taiba will try to make a final case for championship honors Monday in his division’s last Grade 1 race of 2022.
The Bob Baffert-trained Taiba is the 6-5 morning-line favorite for the $300,000 Malibu Stakes (G1). Post time from Santa Anita is 6:39 p.m. EST, with FanDuel TV showing the seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds.
Click here for Santa Anita entries and results.
Six graded stakes are on tap Monday on the opening card of Santa Anita’s winter meet, including the $300,000 American Oaks (G1) and $300,000 La Brea Stakes (G1). Eclipse Awards voters were encouraged to wait until after this card to submit year-end ballots for the 2022 season.
Taiba can make a late push for the 3-year-old male championship with a Malibu Stakes score. After winning the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in April and Pennsylvania Derby (G1) in September, he would become the division’s only three-time Grade 1 hero with a score Monday.
A Malibu victory at one turn would also demonstrate versatility for Taiba. Both his Grade 1 wins were at 1 1/8 miles, and he cuts back three furlongs from a third-place effort Nov. 5 at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at 1 1/4 miles.
Zedan Racing Stables campaigns the Gun Runner colt Taiba, a $1.7 million auction purchase in March 2021. Baffert and jockey Mike Smith have teamed up for two prior Malibu Stakes scores with Charlatan (2020) and McKinzie (2018).
Forbidden Kingdom (3-1) was a Kentucky Derby trail buzz horse last winter at Santa Anita, winning a pair of Grade 2 races. He is now on a three-race losing streak for trainer Richard Mandella, crossing third last out Nov. 20 at Del Mar against allowance foes.
A second Baffert entry is Messier (6-1), the Santa Anita Derby runner-up. He returned from a six-month layoff on the Breeders’ Cup Classic card, bleeding and walking off with an 11th-place finish in an allowance race won by Malibu starter Nakatomi (10-1).
Local allowance winner Apprehend (8-1) finished second Nov. 22 in the Zia Park Derby behind fellow Peter Miller trainee and Malibu hopeful Perfect Flight (12-1).
Here’s a look at the field for the 2022 Malibu Stakes (trainer and jockey in parentheses) with morning-line odds:
1. Forbidden Kingdom (Richard Mandella, Juan Hernandez), 3-1
2. Messier (Bob Baffert, John Velazquez), 6-1
3. Apprehend (Peter Miller, Ramon Vazquez), 8-1
4. Nakatomi (Wesley Ward, Tyler Gaffalione), 10-1
5. Hoist the Gold (Dallas Stewart, Joel Rosario), 12-1
6. Taiba (Bob Baffert, Mike Smith), 6-5
7. Perfect Flight (Peter Miller, Ricardo Santana Jr.), 12-1
8. Strava (Dallas Stewart, Flavien Prat), 15-1
9. Straight No Chaser (Dan Blacker, Edwin Maldonado), 20-1
TimeformUS pace projections show Forbidden Kingdom going to the lead under jockey Juan Hernandez and setting a fast pace, with Straight No Chaser sitting in second. Favorite Taiba is projected to settle mid-pack.
Visit Horse Racing Nation’s free past performances page for more information on both the Malibu Stakes and the $100,000 Gun Runner Stakes, a 2023 Kentucky Derby prep at Fair Grounds.
Matt Shifman analyzes all nine Malibu Stakes starters. He writes that morning-line favorite Taiba is the clear horse to beat but that Perfect Flight is a live long shot for trainer Peter Miller.
Reinier Macatangay writes that despite a 90-day suspension and other troubles, trainer Bob Baffert has had mostly a successful year. Taiba has been one of the reasons for that.
No track is more in focus Monday than opening day at Santa Anita. Super Screener has complete analysis and wagering strategies for all six stakes there, including the Malibu, plus two from Fair Grounds.
Malibu Stakes starters Apprehend, Forbidden Kingdom and Taiba are among J. Keeler Johnson’s Watch List starters in action.
This week on HorseCenter, Brian Zipse and Matt Shifman provide picks and analysis for the Malibu and La Brea Stakes (G1) on opening day at Santa Anita.
Paul Benequista offers Malibu Stakes superfecta keys plus picks for that same bet in other Monday races. His eye is on Nakatomi, an improving horse who knows how to pass runners.
Here is the betting menu for Santa Anita's winter meet.
Malibu Stakes entrants Messier and Taiba are among several Kentucky Derby alumni who either will race Monday or who have been in action lately. See which of trainer Brad Cox’s former Derby runners recently returned to the winner’s circle.
Other Monday stakes
Here is a look at other stakes races of note taking place Monday at Santa Anita and elsewhere. All post times are EST and all races can be seen on FanDuel TV.
2 p.m. – $200,000 Santa Anita Mathis Mile Stakes (G2), 3-year-olds, one mile (turf), Santa Anita
Balnikhov (2-1), who started his career in France, has won two one-mile stakes races over the lawn for trainer Phil D’Amato, including the Bryan Station Stakes (G3) on Oct. 29 at Keeneland. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione will ride the Adaay gelding. Mark Glatt trains I’m A Gambler (5-2), who makes his North American debut after winning the Guisborough Stakes on Oct. 1 at Redcar in England. Santa Anita stakes winner Sumter (3-1) finished third Dec. 3 in Del Mar’s Stormy Liberal Stakes for trainer Richard Mandella.
3:03 p.m. – $200,000 San Gabriel Stakes (G2), 3-and-up, 1 1/8 miles (turf), Santa Anita
Masteroffoxhounds (2-1) is a two-time Grade 2 winner at Santa Anita, with his second such score coming in October’s John Henry Turf Championship Stakes. D’Amato trains and jockey Mike Smith rides the 5-year-old son of War Front, the third-place finisher Nov. 26 at Del Mar in the Seabiscuit Handicap (G2). D’Amato also trains Prince Abama (5-2), winner of the Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes (G2) on Nov. 25 at Del Mar. Dicey Mo Chara (3-1) finished fourth in the Hollywood Turf Cup after running second in the John Henry for trainer Leonard Powell.
4:32 p.m. – $200,000 San Antonio Stakes (G2), 3-and-up, 1 1/16 miles, Santa Anita
Country Grammer (7-5) has run second in all three of his starts since a Dubai World Cup (G1) win in March, with his most recent runner-up effort coming Oct. 1 in the local Awesome Again Stakes (G1). Jockey Frankie Dettori, who is 1-for-11 this year in North America, will be up on the 5-year-old son of Tonalist for trainer Bob Baffert. John Sadler trains two-time Grade 3 victor Heywoods Beach (7-2), who shortens up after finishing second Nov. 4 going 1 5/8 miles in Keeneland’s Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes (G2). Breakfast Ride (4-1), also for Sadler, makes his stakes debut after beating allowance foes Nov. 25 at Del Mar.
5:35 p.m. – $300,000 La Brea Stakes (G1), 3-year-old fillies, seven furlongs, Santa Anita
Midnight Memories (5-2) is 4-for-5 in her career for Baffert, including a win against older fillies and mares Oct. 2 in the local Zenyatta Stakes (G2). Jockey Ramon Vazquez will pilot the Mastery filly. Baffert also trains Under the Stars (7-2), a dual Grade 2 winner who was runner-up Oct. 2 in the local Chillingworth Stakes (G3). Ganadora (4-1), yet another Baffert entry, makes her first start since taking the Dark Mirage Stakes on Sept. 18 at Los Alamitos.
Related: La Brea: Midnight Memories leads Baffert's 4 entries
6 p.m. – $100,000 Gun Runner Stakes, 2-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles, Fair Grounds
Jace’s Road (3-1) makes a second start on the points-paying Road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby after finishing third in September’s Iroquois Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs. Brad Cox trains the Quality Road colt, who dropped jockey Florent Geroux before Churchill’s Street Sense Stakes (G3) on Oct. 30, then finished eighth after Geroux climbed back aboard. Wayne Catalano trains Andthewinneris (7-2), the Bourbon Stakes (G2) winner who switches surfaces after crossing seventh Nov. 4 at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. The Kenny McPeek-trained Hayes Strike (7-2) finished third Nov. 26 at Churchill in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2). The Gun Runner awards its top five finishers Derby points on a 10-4-3-2-1 scale.
Related: Monday play: Determinedly is worth single in Gun Runner | Gun Runner: Odds and analysis for final Derby prep of 2022
6:30 – $100,000 Untapable Stakes, 2-year-old fillies, one mile and 70 yards, Fair Grounds
Pretty Mischievous (3-1) resumes the Road to the 2023 Kentucky Oaks for trainer Brendan Walsh after running third Nov. 26 at Churchill in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2). Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. has the assignment on the Into Mischief filly. Cherie DeVaux trains Vahva (7-2), who broke her maiden on the Kentucky Jockey Club/Golden Rod card on her third try. The Alys Look (4-1) also found the winner’s circle for the first time last out, with her win coming Dec. 1 at Fair Grounds for Cox. The Untapable awards its top five finishers Derby points on a 10-4-3-2-1 scale.
7:11 p.m. – $300,000 American Oaks (G1), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/4 miles (turf), Santa Anita
Salimah (7-2) ships west to make her graded debut as the morning-line favorite in a Grade 1 race for trainer Chad Brown. Jockey Flavien Prat gets a leg up on the El Kabeir filly, who won the Winter Memories Stakes on Nov. 13 at Aqueduct. Glatt trains Bellstreet Bridie (4-1), whose U.S. debut was a winning one Nov. 24 in Del Mar’s Red Carpet Stakes (G3). Mise En Scene (4-1) faces fellow 3-year-olds for Walsh after a sixth-place effort Nov. 5 at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Related: 5 from east ship for American Oaks on Santa Anita opening card | Bellstreet Bridie leads 11 fillies in Monday's American Oaks