12/21/2010 4:25PM

Rainstorm muddles the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes

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If the top sprinter in California wins the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Sunday, opening day of the winter meet at Santa Anita, he will win it despite an imperfect training pattern.

Smiling Tiger, third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and a two-time Grade 1 winner, faces a tall order in the seven-furlong Malibu. He has not had a workout since Dec. 12, and he might prefer six furlongs.

“I don’t see the distance as a problem,” trainer Jeff Bonde said Tuesday. “I just don’t like the fact that we haven’t been able to train the way we wanted. But pretty much everybody else is in the same boat.”

Yes, they are.

Twirling Candy could enter the Malibu without a work since Dec. 16; the same gap applies to brilliant allowance winner Alcindor. Caracortado also will run without a workout since Dec. 12.

Blame it on the rain.

The main track at Santa Anita was closed for training Tuesday as an unrelenting storm continues. Hollywood Park also was closed this week for workouts.

Bonde would have liked to work Smiling Tiger on Tuesday. “We’re going to try to have a breeze sometime this week,” he said.

The question is, when? The heaviest rain was forecast for Tuesday night; the Santa Anita track may not open for training until Thursday.

The good news is sun is in the weekend forecast, and the takeout rate for exotic wagers remains unchanged through Dec. 31. Nonetheless, opening week at the Great Race Place promises to be a challenge for both horses and handicappers.

David H. More than 1 year ago
With the switch to dirt, I have been looking forward to the winter meet for what seems like months now. But with the awful weather I've read about, I'm worried that Sunday is going to be a handicapper's nightmare. The track is sealed, and Tedesco will ensure it's safe, so I'm not worried about the horses. But I am worried about my bankroll (laugh).
CHoffman More than 1 year ago
Sunday, racing doesn't start until Sunday. It's pouring out right now. Today is the last day of the heavy stuff. Clearing after tonight. There are going to be a bunch of horses climbing the stalls. When they get out there they are going to be dancing all over the place.
Zenyatta John More than 1 year ago
Caracortado has been prepping for the Malibu as his targeted goal since August. While it will be an awesome race as always , Caracortado will be the victor.
bob mcmanus More than 1 year ago
Bet early and often on Caracortado.
Aaron K More than 1 year ago
TWIRLING CANDY is my bet. He shows he likes a one-turn distance when he won his second race by 7 1/2 lengths. His last race was the first ever time he went two-turns on the dirt, also he had a different jockey (Mike Smith), Rosario in the irons and also the fact that he gets a preferable one-turn distance; i don't see how this horse will lose. SMILING TIGER is my second choice. I fore see him leading the race with decent fractions (22.5,46). He might try to sneak away at the top of the stretch. I think TC is good enough to pass him in deep stretch though. ALCINDOR is my third choice. He is an improving 3 year old. He showed that by completely demolishing his opponents in his last race. he could hold on for third.
Aaron Brenner More than 1 year ago
Agreed the storms will affect some horses. Comebackers, most likely. This race is often won by sharp sprinters overlooked at good odds over comeback stakes-caliber types. Caracortado was awfully impressive in his last. But, that was on turf, 6 weeks before the Malibu, and his 1st race in over 7 months. Twirling Candy won't have raced in 11 weeks; Smiling Tiger in over 7 weeks. Meanwhile, up and comer, Alcindor was much sharper in only his 2nd race ever, just 4 weeks prior to the Malibu. He seems to be the current sharp sprinter, fitting this race's profile. If he improves at all, he may pull the upset over more substantial horses. I still like Caracortado as my 2nd choice with his 6 week break, and if Twirling Candy bounces back to his old self he would make it tough.
Wayne Isbister More than 1 year ago
Isn't the Malibu on Sunday, not Saturday.
Socal More than 1 year ago
Brad Free must be getting a jump on his New Year's Eve partying this year. Indeed the race is the 26th of Dec. (Sunday) as everyone ... is aware.