Charlatan And Nashville Heading For Showdown In Santa Anita’s Opening Day Malibu

Bob Baffert-trained Charlatan and Nashville, from the Steve Asmussen stable, head a powerful group of probable starters in Santa Anita’s Grade 1, $300,000 Runhappy Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs on Santa Anita’s opening day, Saturday, Dec. 26. The Arcadia, Calif., track’s traditional opening day headliner, the Malibu, the final Grade 1 of the year for 3-year-olds, will be run for the 74th time. (The race was run in divisions in 1972, 1975, 1977 & 1984).

Idle since finishing first in a division of the G1 Arkansas Derby by six lengths on May 2, Charlatan was subsequently disqualified from purse money due to a medication violation, so his official record is two wins from three starts. Including the Arkansas Derby, Charlatan, who broke his maiden and took a first condition allowance at Santa Anita this past winter, has finished first in his three starts by a combined 22 lengths.

In a performance that had the racing world abuzz on Breeders’ Cup Classic Day at Keeneland Nov. 7, Nashville powered to a 3 ½-length victory in a six-furlong ungraded stakes, stopping the clock in a track record 1:07.80 and earning a solid 102 Beyer Speed figure — two points less than Whitmore’s 104 Beyer in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint over the same surface.  Heavily favored in three starts, all sprints, Nashville, like Charlatan, is a son of champion sprinter Speightstown. A first-out maiden winner Sept. 2 at Saratoga, he has won all three of his races in gate to wire fashion by a combined 24 ¾ lengths.

Baffert will also be represented in the Malibu by three-time stakes winner Thousand Words, who has been idle since well beaten in the G1 Preakness Stakes Oct. 3.

Mark Glatt’s Grade 1 stakes winning sprinter Collusion Illusion is also listed as probable and although he was well beaten by Whitmore when shuffled back early in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, he ran a much better-than-looked race and should give a good account of himself back on his home ground.

Nominations closed Dec. 10 and among those also listed as probable for the Malibu are the John Shirreffs-trained Express Train, Michael McCarthy’s Independence Hall and Doug O’Neill’s Strongconstitution.

Equibase past performances for Runhappy Malibu nominations

Opening day entries for the Runhappy Malibu and five other stakes, the G1 La Brea, the G1 American Oaks, the G2 Mathis Brothers Mile, the G2 San Antonio and the Lady of Shamrock Stakes, will be taken at Santa Anita on Monday, Dec. 21.

Although there is still no public admittance due to continuing restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa Anita’s races can be viewed live at santaanita.com/live and fans can watch and wager on these races via a number of ADW platforms, including 1st.com/Bet.

Special early first post time on opening day is at 11:00 a.m.  For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.

The post Charlatan And Nashville Heading For Showdown In Santa Anita’s Opening Day Malibu appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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