The Grade I, $300,000 Runhappy Malibu Stakes will run as Race 10 on the Dec. 26 card at Santa Anita Park.
The event for 3-year-olds will cover seven furlongs and include names like Nashville, Charlatan, and Independence Hall among the field of six.
Here is a look at the top runners set for the Runhappy Malibu Stakes.
Betting Preview: Nashville, Charlatan
The morning-line favorite coming in at 6/5 is CHC INC. and WinStar Farm’s Nashville. The Speightstown colt is trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen.
He has a perfect career record of 3-0-0 from three starts and earnings of $157,200. All of his starts have come in 2020.
Last time out, the colt scored the Nov. 7 Perryville Stakes at Keeneland, where he registered a 115 Speed Figure. He also took an Oct. 10 allowance race at the track and a Sept. 2 maiden special weight race at Saratoga.
Nashville will break from post 3 under jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr.
His biggest challenge will likely come from the 9/5 Charlatan, owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Stonestreet Stables, Frederick Hertich, John Fielding, and Golconda Stables. A Speightstown colt as well, he is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.
The colt is 2-0-0 from three career starts with earnings of $67,200, with all starts coming in 2020.
He is coming off a ninth-place finish in the May 2 Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park, which followed a March 14 allowance optional claiming race at Santa Anita. He also scored a Feb. 16 maiden special weight race at Santa Anita.
Charlatan will break from post 4 under rider Mike E. Smith.
Betting Preview: Independence Hall
Another impressive runner among the field is Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables, Kathleen Verratti, and Robert Verratti’s Independence Hall. Coming in at 4/1, the Constitution colt is trained by Michael McCarthy.
He is 4-1-0 from six career starts with earnings of $310,600. His 2020 runs include two wins and one second from four outings.
He took a Nov. 8 allowance optional claiming race at Del Mar last time out, where he registered a 108 Speed Figure. His other performances include fifth in the March 28 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, a runner-up effort in the Feb. 8 Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay, and a Jan. 1 Jerome Stakes victory at Aqueduct.
Independence Hall will break from the outside post 6 under rider Joel Rosario.
The rest of the field (post, morning line) is set to include: Collusion Illusion (Post 1, 8/1); Thousand Words (Post 2, 8/1), and Express Train (Post 5, 15/1).
Free Betting Pick
Nashville looks great coming into this one and is the horse to beat. He will be challenged by Baffert’s Charlatan, especially since the trainer is looking for his fourth Malibu win. However, Nashville’s Perryville Stakes performance last month makes it hard to choose another over him, as he won by 3 1/2 lengths after outrunning the others while registered a 115 Speed Figure.
Spooky Express Free Pick: Nashville
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