12/26/2012 7:41PM

Santa Anita: Jimmy Creed gets the trip and the win in Malibu

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Benoit & Associates
Jimmy Creed and Garrett Gomez edge Private Zone (right) in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Staying out of trouble – or specifically, racing in the clear – made Jimmy Creed a Grade 1 winner in the $301,000 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita on Wednesday.

Closing from fourth in a field of nine, Jimmy Creed ($19.20) raced wide to catch pacesetter Private Zone in the final furlong. He won the Malibu by three-quarters of a length, running seven furlongs in a quick 1:20.36.

The victory was the fifth career win in the Malibu for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, and came on the same day that his son Gary saddled Silentio to a victory in the Grade 2 Sir Beaufort Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf.

The Malibu was Jimmy Creed’s first start since a ninth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint here on Nov. 3. Mandella blamed the loss on Jimmy Creed racing behind horses and being hit with dirt early in the race. In recent weeks, Mandella altered Jimmy Creed’s training to make the colt more comfortable racing behind horses.

“The horse doesn’t like dirt in his face,” he said. “We’ve trained him behind horses and schooled him as much as we could. He’s given us the feeling that he’s a good horse.”

Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Jimmy Creed trailed Private Zone by 1 1/2 lengths on the backstretch, while racing on the inside. Gomez guided Jimmy Creed outside of runners in early stretch and got an immediate response to pull closer to the front. Jimmy Creed trailed Private Zone by a length with a furlong to go, but took the lead in the last sixteenth.

Private Zone, a 15-1 outsider, finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of Unbridled’s Note, who was followed by Drill, Guilt Trip, Fed Biz, The Lumber Guy, Politicallycorrect and Basmati.

The Lumber Guy, second in the BC Sprint, was the 4-5 favorite. He was second to Private Zone on the backstretch in the Malibu, but faded in the final furlong.

“I couldn’t have asked for any better,” jockey John Velazquez said of his trip aboard The Lumber Guy. “When I let him have his head, he came up with no run at all.”

Private Zone, who has finished second or third in four consecutive starts, ran arguably the best race of his career. He set a fast early pace of 22.74 and 44.77 seconds.

“He just got beat by a better horse,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “They flew around there.”

Jimmy Creed is owned by breeder B. Wayne Hughes, the owner of Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky. The colt is by Distorted Humor out of Hookedonthefeelin, who won five stakes, including the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes here in 2009.

Jimmy Creed has won 3 of 7 starts and $313,000.