Taking a shot with Copper Bullet in Malibu Stakes

The Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes for three-year-old sprinters is the opening day feature this Wednesday at Santa Anita. The prestigious seven-furlong stake drew a field of 14 with two also-eligibles. Post time for the Malibu, Race 9 on a stakes-laden 10-race program, is 7 p.m. EST. In addition to watching and wagering, be sure to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#3 COPPER BULLET (6-1) drew off impressively last month in his first start since last August. That was his first effort as a three-year-old, so slight improvement is to be expected. COPPER BULLET should be able to relax just off the pace by drawing away from the rail this time around. Jose Ortiz sees fit to make the trip for this Steve Asmussen trainee, who has been getting over this course very well in the mornings.

#13 MCKINZIE (7-2, morning-line favorite) was last seen firing a clunker in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Obviously, the 1 1/4-mile trip was beyond his scope. It’s possible he didn’t care for the Churchill strip too. He’s been training well for this for Bob Baffert, who sends out a host of others in here. However, MCKINZIE will maintain Baffert’s go-to pilot in Mike Smith. The colt’s record over this course (3-2-1-0) is hard to ignore.

#9 AX MAN (5-1) makes what looks like a well-advised cutback for his first start since the Los Alamitos Derby in July. The Malibu will also be AX MAN’s first start as a gelding, which could aid his cause. Drayden Van Dyke will ride.

#6 AXELROD (10-1) lures John Velazquez as he turns back and drops out of the Classic. He’s not as classy or fast as some of the top ones but need only improve slightly to have a chance at a share. The cutback should help him based on pedigree.

The play: $3 exacta box 3/13, $2 exacta 3/6,9 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Drayden Van Dyke would be a wise addition to the stable on opening day at Santa Anita. He rides in just five of the 10 scheduled races but has quality mounts in all. Favored Amedine (2-1) kicks off his day in the Lady of Shamrock. Later on he’ll be aboard live Baffert firster Scalper. Van Dyke also has the call on Dream Tree in the La Brea and Ax Man in the Malibu. His day ends with live longshot Trojan Spirit in the finale.

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