Baffert On Charlatan’s Malibu: ‘He Exceeded Our Expectations’

It was business as usual Sunday morning for Bob Baffert, less than 24 hours after Charlatan demolished his rivals with a 4 ½-length victory in the Runhappy Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., the final Grade 1 race of a tumultuous 2020.

It was the 16th Grade 1 win of the year for Baffert, four more than runner-up Chad Brown, enhancing the two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer’s chances for an Eclipse Award, although personal triumphs are not high on his priority list.

But with Authentic‘s Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic victories and pending Horse of the Year honors a mere formality, Baffert assuredly has the credentials to merit such a singular honor.

But this morning it was all about the horse.

“He came back great,” Baffert said of Charlatan, a Speightstown colt making his first start since May 2, when he crossed the wire first by six lengths in the first division of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, only to be disqualified on a medication violation that has been appealed.

“We haven’t really decided what we’re going to do with him yet,” said Baffert. “It’s too early. We’ll give it a week.

“I thought he was going to need the race but he was a lot readier than I thought. We were hoping he would pick up where he left off, and he exceeded our expectations.

“He’s just a brilliant horse. He came out of it in really good shape so we’re excited. It was a good way to cap off the year.”

Now it’s on to 2021, and Baffert wasn’t letting the grass grow under his feet, so to speak.

“I breezed a lot of good horses today,” he said, among them Life Is Good, sensational winner by 9 ½ lengths of his debut race Nov. 22 by 9 ½ lengths for owner China Horse Club, Inc. and WinStar Farm LLC. The $525,000 son of Into Mischief is among five Baffert trainees nominated to Saturday’s Grade 3 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile.

Life Is Good went six furlongs in a bullet 1:10.60. In all, Baffert supervised 14 recorded works this morning.

“The track was really good today,” he said. “It was faster and they were getting over it good. It had a lot of bounce to it. We’re still debating whether Life Is Good will go in the Sham or the seven-eighths (the G2 San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 7). I have to talk to Elliott Walden first.”

Walden is president and CEO of racing operations at WinStar, near Versailles, Ky.

Baffert does plan to enter debut winner Medina Spirit in the Sham.The Florida-bred son of Protonico owned by Zedan Racing Stables Inc. was a three-length winner going 5 ½ furlongs at Los Alamitos on Dec. 11 under Abel Cedillo. Medina Spirit breezed five furlongs today in 1:02.

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