2021 Malibu Stakes Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content
by J. Keeler Johnson (TwinSpires.com)
1. Baby Yoda – This talented gelding rose to prominence during the summer at Saratoga dominating starter allowance and allowance sprint with triple-digit Brisnet Speed ratings. But his form has regressed in recent starts, including a troubled seventh-place finish in the Steel Valley Sprint S. at Mahoning Valley, so Baby Yoda will need a turnaround to challenge against tougher company in the Malibu.
2. Timeless Bounty – A former claimer, Timeless Bounty unleashed a big rally to win the Steel Valley Sprint at odds of 59-1. But Timeless Bounty benefited from a fast early/slow late race shape, and the 95 Brisnet Speed rating he received looks a little light compared to the Malibu favorites.
3. Stilleto Boy – An capable route runner, Stilleto Boy exits a second-place effort in the Awesome Again S. (G1) and a fifth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). The chestnut gelding has improved a lot since his last sprint start on Feb. 27, so there’s a chance cutting back to seven furlongs will sharpen Stilleto Boy’s stretch rally and place the son of Shackleford in the hunt for a top-three finish.
4. Dr. Schivel – The most accomplished of the Malibu entrants is a two-time Grade 1 winner with a glowing resume sprinting six to seven furlongs. Last time out, Dr. Schivel ran too good to lose in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), advancing into the teeth of a hot pace before settling for second place by a nose against a deep closer. With a quartet of triple-digit Brisnet Speed ratings under his belt, Dr. Schivel is one of the fastest runners on paper and shouldn’t miss the exacta if he brings his A-game.
5. Flightline – Two starts, two blowout victories by double-digit margins. Flightline is untested against stakes company, but he’s been spectacular against easier foes, most recently smashing a six-furlong allowance at Del Mar with a massive 117 Brisnet Speed rating. Flightline hasn’t run since Sept. 5, but he’s been training up a storm in preparation for the Malibu and looms as the runner to beat under hot jockey Flavien Prat.
6. Team Merchants – Although Team Merchants has been running long on turf as of late, his form on dirt is respectable—in fact, his last start in a dirt sprint produced a rallying allowance victory with a 100 Brisnet Speed rating. The son of Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Nyquist can’t be dismissed as a live longshot with superfecta credentials, especially if he settles off a hot pace while cutting back in distance.
7. Triple Tap – The wildcard in the Malibu field is Triple Tap, a half-brother to 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh. The son of Tapit is unbeaten and unchallenged in two starts, most recently capitalizing on a hot pace to rally and win a six-furlong Del Mar allowance with a 100 Brisnet Speed rating. Triple Tap is stepping up in class and might not receive as a favorable a setup in the Malibu, but he’s been churning out bullet or near-bullet workouts like clockwork and has win potential if Flightline falters.