Santa Anita Opening Day Feature goes to Mind Your Biscuit
The Grade I Malibu Stakes is the traditional feature race on Santa Anita’s opening day of its winter-spring meet. And this year’s 65th running awarded a $180,000 first place prize to Mind Your Biscuits, who closed furiously late to overtake Sharp Azteca by a half-length and win the $300,000 Malibu on Monday.
Mind Your Biscuits, who finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, raced three times at Belmont this summer and was a 9-length winner in allowance company the Fourth of July. The Robert Falcone, Jr.-trained 3-year-old has run five graded stakes since and picked up his second win with two other in the money finishes. Falcone picked up his first career Grade I victory, and was thrilled after the race.
“This is great for him,” said Falcone. “He bounced out of the Breeders’ Cup great and he gets over the track so well. He just proved today, again, that he’s a great horse. It feels great.”
Jockey Joel Rosario kept the colt closer along the backstretch, stalking the two leaders and making a run at Sharp Azteca in the stretch before reeling in the speedster in the final 70 yards to finish 7 furlongs in 1:20.81.
“I was a little concerned in the stretch,” admitted winning jockey Joel Rosario. “We were closer than we have ever been before. They were smoking up front. We got a little late kick and he took off.”
The 4-1 Sharp Azteca dug in resiliently while holding second, 2 1/4 lengths clear of 8-5 favorite Ten Blessings. Mor Spirit was well back through six furlongs and lacked the needed rally before finishing fourth.
“I think there was quite a bit of speed in that race,” Sharp Azteca’s rider, Edgard Zayas, said. “I let the horse go for a bit on the lead but I didn’t just want to give it to him so I had to put the pressure on a bit but that horse finished really strong. He’s a really nice horse and my horse ran his eyeballs out. I felt that he tried his hardest.”
Ten Blessings, a son of dual Eclipse champion and 2008 La Brea (G1) queen Indian Blessing, fared best of Bob Baffert’s trio in third.
“We got a good trip,” jockey Rafael Bejarano said of Ten Blessings, “and we were in a good position at the three-eighths pole. We kept running, but they were really running up front.”
Mind Your Biscuits had been training forwardly since his third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, turning in a bullet four-furlong work at Belmont Nov. 27 and returning to the west coast for a best-of-62 four-furlong drill in :47 1/5 at Santa Anita Dec. 18. He took another step forward by winning a big race on Santa Anita’s opening day.
Nobody hit the Pick 6 opening day, setting up a $115,000 carryover when racing resumes Thursday, Dec. 30.