12/15/2012 11:48AM

Santa Anita: Jimmy Creed looks set to show his best in the Malibu

Shigeki Kikkawa
Jimmy Creed comes off a ninth in the BC Sprint, but he is working quickly and trainer Richard Mandella expects improvement in the Malibu.

Jimmy Creed will make his third start in a Grade 1 sprint at Santa Anita in the $300,000 Malibu Stakes on the Dec. 26 opening-day program.

So far, results have varied widely for the 3-year-old in such races.

Jimmy Creed made his graded stakes debut in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship over six furlongs on Oct. 6. A 7-1 shot, he closed well along the rail to finish third by three-quarters of a length to Coil, a multiple stakes winner.

The performance led to high expectations for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 3. An 8-1 shot in a field of 14, Jimmy Creed finished a quiet ninth, more than six lengths behind race winner Trinniberg.

“I wish he’d run better in the Breeders’ Cup,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “We’ll just try it again.

“He doesn’t like dirt in his face. I know that’s a weak excuse, but he’s been pretty persistent about it all along. He was down in the 2 hole [in the Breeders’ Cup]. I think he finally got mad and gave up.”

Fast workouts in recent weeks have led Mandella and owner B. Wayne Hughes to be optimistic about Jimmy Creed’s chances in the seven-furlong Malibu.

“He’s ready to go,” Mandella said. “I expect he’ll run pretty good.”

A winner of 2 of 6 starts, Jimmy Creed has yet to win a stakes. He was beaten a neck by Fed Biz in a thrilling running of the El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar on Sept. 1, when the two colts fought through the stretch.

In the Malibu, Jimmy Creed is likely to race as a stalker, a style that often worked against the bias at the Santa Anita fall meeting. Horses that raced near the front held an advantage for most of the six-week season.

The Malibu is expected to have a strong field.

The probable starters include The Lumber Guy, second in the BC Sprint; Unbridled’s Note, second in the BC Turf Sprint; Drill, unraced since winning the Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes at Hollywood Park in May; Fed Biz, who was eighth in the BC Dirt Mile; Politicallycorrect, who won the Damascus Stakes at Santa Anita last month; and Private Zone, who was second in the Vernon Underwood Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park on Dec. 2.

There are three stakes on the Dec. 26 program. The other two are the $300,000 La Brea Stakes, a Grade 1 for 3-year-old fillies over seven furlongs, and the Grade 2, $150,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes for 3-year-olds over a mile on turf.

My Miss Aurelia, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2011, is a candidate for the La Brea.