Malibu Winner Charlatan Likely To Skip Pegasus, Aim For Saudi Cup

Charlatan, who returned to the races after an absence of eight months with a dominating 4 ½-length victory in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., on opening day Dec. 26, will likely make his next start in the world’s richest race, the $20-million Saudi Cup at 1 1/8 miles in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Feb. 20, Bob Baffert said Sunday morning.

The winner receives $10 million.

 Charlatan had his first workout Saturday since the Malibu, going four furlongs in 49.80.

The 4-year-old son of Speightstown was making his first start in the seven-furlong Malibu since crossing the wire on top in the first division of the G1 Arkansas Derby last May 2, only to later be disqualified on a medication violation that is under appeal.

The dazzling chestnut colt has reached the finish line ahead of his rivals by a combined margin of 26 1/2 lengths, an average of better than six lengths per race.

“That’s the plan right now,” Baffert said of the Saudi Cup. “I’ve got another week to make up my mind, but he’d be coming back a little quick for the other race ($3-million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park Jan. 23) off a long layoff, and he ran so hard (in the Malibu), I worry about that.

“The thing I like about the Saudi race is it’s a one-turn mile-and-an-eighth and Charlatan is so fast. It’s a challenge, but it’s $20 million.

“That’s a lot of money.”

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