An accomplished field of 10 goes in Santa Anita’s opening day feature, the Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes, on Monday. The three-year-old sprinters will run seven furlongs on the main course in Race 8; approximate post time 7:00 p.m. EST. Southern California’s best jockeys will be present all day long, so be sure to study Santa Anita’s card carefully if you’re playing FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
#2 MIND YOUR BISCUITS (5-2, morning-line favorite), the lone runner returning from the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, gets the nod. He was a solid third in that race, making up several lengths in the stretch under Joel Rosario (who maintains the mount). MIND YOUR BISCUITS has moved very well in the mornings, including a bullet four-furlong breeze on Dec. 18. The pace should also set up well for him, as #5 JAZZY TIMES and #7 SHARP AZTECA should be gunning for the early lead.
Bob Baffert has entered three in the Malibu; chief among them is #4 TEN BLESSINGS (3-1). This will be TEN BLESSINGS’ stakes debut but he was extremely impressive in his last start, crushing allowance foes. He earned the field’s best last-out speed figure, which also happens to be the highest career figure of any runner. He’ll be very dangerous if he can replicate that figure while moving up in class. Look for him and Rafael Bejarano to make the first move against the tiring leaders.
#3 SEMPER FORTIS (12-1) adds longshot appeal, at least in the underneath slots. He’s hit the board in each of his last five races (all routes, three stakes) and might benefit from this distance reduction. Regular pilot Mario Gutierrez will once again have the call on this versatile competitor.
I’m taking a stand against SHARP AZTECA at 3-1, as this east coast speed merchant might get burned shipping west. I’m also excluding the other two Baffert runners, JAZZY TIMES and #8 MOR SPIRIT. JAZZY TIMES (8-1) is likely to be a rabbit for one of Baffert’s more accomplished entrants, while MOR SPIRIT (6-1) faces a daunting task in his first start since the Kentucky Derby.
The play: $2 trifecta 2,4/2,3,4/2,3,4, $1 trifecta 2,4/2,4/3 ($10)
DFJ analysis: Rafael Bejarano ($10,000) offers quality and quantity on Monday, as he’ll ride in six races. He could sweep the late double with TEN BLESSINGS and Moonlight Drive in the Malibu and Mathis Brothers’ Mile, respectively.
Flavien Prat ($9,500) has seven mounts in total, including longshot WHO’S OUT in the Malibu. His better prospects on the card include Conquest Enforcer (7-2) in the Mathis Brothers’ Mile, Sawbuck (3-1) in Race 2, and Mission Driven (4-1) in Race 4.
Mario Gutierrez ($9,000) would not be a bad choice either despite having only four mounts on Monday. SEMPER FORTIS is a live longshot in the Malibu, and in addition to Frank Conversation (5-1) in the Mathis Brothers’ Mile, Gutierrez rides two other Doug O’Neill-trained runners.
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