12/27/2006 12:00AM

Malibu preview

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December 26, 2006
Santa Anita - Race 8
7 Furlongs
Malibu Stakes (Grade 1)
3-year-olds
Purse $250,000

ARSON SQUAD overcame a multi-horse pace duel over a closer-friendly track to win his most recent outing, and is the only Malibu runner entering the race off three straight main track triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures. He probably won't be as close to the pace in this spot with likely pacesetters DA STOOPS and SAILORS SUNSET flying early, but Arson Squad is just as capable from off the pace, and he absolutely loves this racetrack. LATENT HEAT has shown flashes of brilliance in his career, and may offer value after a dud over Keeneland's Polytrack surface last time out. He was reported to be ill prior to that race so he does have an excuse for the poor performance. Latent Heat likes to be up on the pace, but draws outside the other speeds, and will likely have to pass some rivals today if he is to grab the brass ring. MIDNIGHT LUTE is brittle, but brilliant, and he whipped Latent Heat at Keeneland. He has yet to take a backward step on the Beyer scale, and should get plenty of pace to setup his late kick. He should be used in multi-race and exotic wagers. BROTHER DEREK will get plenty of play off his fifth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic, but the original plan was for him to try the turf in the Hollywood Derby. He got sick before the race, was scratched, and now must turn back three furlongs for the Malibu. Like Latent Heat, he seems most comfortable on the front, and that just doesn't seem like an option today.