WINNER, OWNED BY CARDOZA & PEGRAM, IS ONE OF THREE BAFFERT TRAINEES; ON-TRACK CROWD OF 30,540 BASKS IN SUNNY CONDITIONS AS THE PICK SIX CARRIES OVER TO THE TUNE OF $118,415–FRIDAY’S TOTAL POOL EXPECTED TO EXCEED $700,000
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 26, 2013)–Bob Baffert looked as though he were loaded for bear in Santa Anita’s opening day, Grade I Malibu Stakes, with three entrants–9-5 favorite Flashback and longshots Shakin It Up and Zee Bros. In the end, it was Shakin It Up, off at 17-1 under a resurgent David Flores, who mustered the necessary rally, winning by a half length over Central Banker and Joe Talamo while covering seven furlongs in 1:20.53 before an on-track crowd of 30,540.
Flores, who had been a Southern California mainstay for more than 20 years, shifted his tack to the Midwest earlier this year and was enjoying good success at Fairgrounds in New Orleans in recent weeks.
Far back early in a field of 11, Shakin It Up, a Kentucky-bred colt by Midnight Lute, was in high gear around the turn, slicing into rapid early splits of 21.66, 43.33 and 1:08.05.
“I was expecting a good pace,” said Flores. “The main thing was to get a good start and to place myself where he could relax and just wait for the turn, when I could get after him. And we timed it just right. We closed the year with a good horse.
“We have decided to move to Singapore (to ride full-time) for six months. It makes sense and it’s the best thing for us right now. We leave at 10:45 tonight. We’ll go for six months and then see where we’re at. I start riding there on New Year’s Day, opening day.
Owned by former U.S. Congressional Representative Dennis Cardoza and TOC Chairman Mike Pegram, Shakin It Up was off at 17-1 and paid $36.00, $15.00 and $7.80.
“I am overjoyed,” said Cardoza, whose former Congressional district is located in California’s Central Valley. “Mike Pegram is so good for horse racing. He is a champion of a man and one of the best friends I’ve ever had in life. To do it with him is so special that I can’t even put it into words.”
Baffert, whose Flashback finished fourth and Zee Bros finished 10th, thought he was “live” with Shakin It Up.
“He was training great,” said American Racing’s most recognizable figure. “…He had the back class to win it, but with the layoff (away since March 24) and being in the two-hole…I knew Zee Bros had a chance to win it if they didn’t go too fast, but they went too fast. I knew he could win it from way off.
“I thought Flashback would be more in the middle of it, and he ended up falling way back, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. It’s a great way to end the day, with that horse winning. Midnight Lute has shown what a terrific sire he is.”
With the winner’s share of $180,000, Shakin It Up nearly doubled his earnings to $367,600. He now has three wins, a second and a third from six starts.
Central Banker, off at 10-1 and trained by Eastern-based Al Stall, Jr., rallied three deep turning for home, made the lead in midstretch, but could not hold off the winner.
“I hate losing like that,” said Talamo. “But I’ll tell you what, my horse, he couldn’t have run a better a better race. He ran his heart out and he handled the kickback well. This was his first time running here and he really tried hard.”
Central Banker paid $11.40 and $6.40.
The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Zeewat, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, finished three quarters of a length behind Central Banker and paid $5.20 to show.
It was another 2 ¾ lengths back to Flashback.
Santa Anita has a Pick Six carryover of $118,415 into Friday, and it is expected that the total Pick Six pool will exceed $700,000.
First post time for an eight-race card is 12:30 p.m.